By Mario Osava
SÃO PAULO, 18 May 2012 - Energy integration in South America will be a reality "in the medium to long term," driven by hydropower and drawing on Brazil’s experience, predicts Altino Ventura Filho, secretary of planning in this country’s Ministry of Mines and Energy.
Promoting the development of an integrated regional energy system, which will be "an example for the world," is a policy focus in Brazil, Ventura Filho said at the second Latin American hydropower summit, organised May 9-10 in the southern city of São Paulo by Business News Americas, an online business information service based in Santiago, Chile.
The process has already begun among the Mercosur (Southern Common Market) countries - Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – with binational projects and interconnections that "avert conflicts," promote energy security, and bring down costs because they more than compensate for investment in power lines and plants, Ventura Filho said.
And integration with Argentina will be given an enormous boost with the construction of two binational hydroelectric plants, Garabí and Panambí, on the Uruguay River, which forms part of the border between Brazil and Argentina and between Argentina and Uruguay. The plants will have a combined capacity of 2,200 MW by the end of the decade.
Uruguay will be ready for full energy integration with Brazil’s national grid in November 2013, said Gonzalo Casaravilla, president of UTE, Uruguay’s state electric utility.
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