The Belo Monte Dam (formerly known as Kararaô) is a hydroelectric dam complex currently under construction on the Xingu River in the state of Pará, Brazil. The planned installed capacity of the dam complex would be 11,233 megawatts (MW), which would make it the second-largest hydroelectric dam complex in Brazil and the world's third-largest in installed capacity, behind the Three Gorges Dam in China and the Brazilian-Paraguayan Itaipu Dam. Considering the oscillations of flow river, guaranteed minimum capacity generation from the Belo Monte Dam would measure 4,571 MW, 39% of its maximum capacity. Transmission lines would connect electricity generated by the dams' turbines to the main Brazilian power grid, which would distribute it throughout the country, both for residential and commercial consumption and to supply the growth of such industries as aluminium transformation and metallurgy. Brazil's rapid economic growth over the last decade has provoked a huge demand for new and stable sources of energy, especially to supply its growing industries. In Brazil, 46% of the energy consumed comes from renewable energy sources, and hydroelectric power plants produce over 85% of the electrical energy. The Government has decided to construct new hydroelectric dams to guarantee national energy security.
However, there is opposition both within Brazil and among the international community to the project's potential construction regarding its economic viability, the generation efficiency of the dams and in particular its impacts on the region's people and environment. In addition, critics worry that construction of the Belo Monte Dam could make the construction of other dams upstream, which could have greater impacts, more viable.
Plans for the dam began in 1975 but were soon shelved due to controversy; they were later revitalized in the late 1990s. In the 2000s, the dam was redesigned, but faced renewed controversy and (controversial) impact assessments were carried out. On 26 August 2010, a contract was signed with Norte Energia to construct the dam once the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) had issued an installation license. A partial installation license was granted on 26 January 2011 and a full license to construct the dam was issued on 1 June 2011. The licensing process and the dam's construction have been mired in federal court battles; the current ruling is that construction is allowed, because the license is based on five different environmental technical reports and in accordance with the RIMA (Environmental Impact Report, EIA-RIMA) study for Belo Monte.
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