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Drought Brings Brazil Hydro Dams Near Zero Capacity

The worst drought since Brazil began keeping records in the 1930s is bringing the country’s hydroelectric reservoirs close to zero capacity.

Hydro normally supplies about 70% of Brazil’s electricity, but “according to the federal government, hydroelectric power facilities in the country’s southeastern region that supply power to close to 20 million people in the metropolitan region of São Paulo (MRSP) are being deactivated,” Renewable Energy World reports. Local media reports say the region’s Billings Reservoir, which supplies the 889-megawatt Henry Borden hydroelectric facility, is nearly dry.

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“On January 19, Brazil’s national grid operator, Operador Nacional do Sistema Eletrico (ONS), cut power to several major Brazilian cities, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro,” Poindexter writes. “With reduced generation from hydroelectric dams, demand for electricity generated from fossil fuel-fired plants will continue to peak as people turn up the air conditioning through the hot summer.”