The PCHs are an excellent alternative of clean electric power at a low environmental cost, even during drought periods.
A Small Hydroelectric Center (PCH) is every small hydroelectric plant whose installed capacity is higher than 3 MW and lower than 30 MW. Moreover, the reservoir area must be lower than 300 hectares (3 km²), with lower environmental impact.
Different from a large hydroelectric power plant, the PCHs do not need large reservoirs for the storage of volumes of water, because they allow the continuous passage of water with a more stable nominal capacity. The PCHs use the force of gravity, that is, of the drop in the water level, using the natural and historical flow of the rivers without the need of storing water; they require a small flood zone, many times equivalent to the level of the floods of the river.
With the current scenario of expansion of electric power allied to a serious drought in several regions of the country, the PCHs have become an alternative to the power generation. “This has been growing, due to the environmental issues as well as the crises that have hit the Brazilian power sector routinely since 2001. With this, the Brazilian government started to stimulate the production of electric power through alternative sources, such as biomass, Aeolic, solar and PCHs”, says engineer Gilberto L. Caviglia, Development Director of the Cesbe Participações S.A. holding.
The PCHs represent generation of clean energy at a small environmental cost. Despite this simplicity and low impact, they go through all the phases of the process of environmental licensing as the required ones for the large hydroelectric power plants (EIA-RIMA, issuing of licenses with environmental control and mitigation programs)including the creation of preservation areas in the areas surrounding the plant with monitoring and maintenance performed during the concession period.
With sustainable characteristics and very low environmental impact, they offer great advantages. “This is a renewable source model, with lower environmental impact, faster construction and lower social impact, distributed and decentralized generation, lower generation cost, lower greenhouse gas emission because it replaces fossil fuel thermal sources, generation of taxes for the cities, generation of direct and indirect jobs in the construction phase and permanent jobs with the operation after the conclusion of the works. It also uses 100% national equipment, engineering and construction services”, affirms Caviglia.
Cesbe is a Construction company specialized in this type of enterprise, with large presence in this market all over the country, and which believes in the Brazilian hydraulic potential. It has among its assets the PCHs Carlos Gonzatto (9 MW) and Marco Baldo (16 MW), both located in Rio Turvo, State of Rio Grande do Sul.