Itaipu Dam Facts

The Itaipu Dam is the world’s largest producer of clean, renewable energy.

The hydroelectric dam is situated in South America on the border between Brazil and Paraguay, where it supplies 16% of Brazil’s domestic energy consumption as well as generating 76% of Paraguay’s energy needs.

It is classed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

Itaipu Dam Facts for Kids

  • The Itaipu Dam spans the Parana River, construction started in 1974, after the signing of the Itaipu Treaty between Brazil and Paraguay in 1973.
  • A new channel was built to divert the river for 1.24 miles (2 km) during the dam’s construction, this allowed the river bed to be dried out so that the dam could be built in concrete.
  • Approximately 40,000 workers were employed to build the dam and to run its company support offices.
  • Itaipu started generating electricity in 1984, and it had produced over 2.4 billion Megawatt-hours by the end of 2015.
  • In 2016, it set a new world energy production record, generating 103.1 million Megawatt-hours in a year.
  • Itaipu is 643 feet high (196 meters) and stretches 23,727 feet (7,235 meters) wide.
  • Electricity is generated at two different frequencies by the dam. Ten of the 20 generating units generate 60 Hz for Brazilian use and the remaining ten generate the 50 Hz frequency that is used in Paraguay.
  • The Itaipu’s reservoir covers 520 square miles (1,350 square kilometers), making it the seventh-largest artificial lake in Brazil. It was created on October 13th 1982, taking only two weeks to fill up.
  • Thousands of lives were affected by the creation of the lake, which meant rehoming thousands of families and animals. While people were offered financial compensation, operation ‘Mymba Kuera’ (meaning ‘animal catching’ in the local language) saved the lives of 36,450 animals from the area before it was flooded.
  • Around 434 million cubic feet (12.3 million cubic meters) of concrete were used to build the Itaipu Dam.


Question: What is a hydroelectric power plant?

Answer: A hydroelectric power plant is a construction that is used to generate electricity from water. The different levels of a river are used and where possible dams are created to ensure a continuous, long flow of water. The pressure of the water, as it falls, turns turbines within the power plant.

This turning creates an electromagnetic field that generates electricity. The higher the distance that the waterfalls, the greater the amount of energy that can be generated. Natural waterfalls can also be used.

Question: What are the advantages and disadvantages of the construction of the Itaipu Dam?

Answer: What are the advantages and disadvantages of the construction of the Itaipu Dam? There are many advantages, the Itaipu Dam provides low cost, clean and renewable energy. This means that the energy produced is environmentally friendly and at a lower cost. In fact, the electricity generated by the Itaipu Dam is 55% cheaper than that produced by other local power plants.

The construction and upkeep of the dam has also created many jobs and improved the economies of Brazil and Paraguay while improving the reliability of their electricity supply. The company that runs the Itaipu Dam also pays money for the use of the water to both countries. This has helped to benefit 16 cities who have been affected by the creation of the dam, and has paid for improvements in health care, sewage works, education, housing, and general quality of life projects.

However, the construction of the Itaipu Dam has caused environmental problems for the area, with a loss of habitat for certain plants and animals with the creation of the lake. Also, the creation of the dam has severely disrupted fish migration and other river animal life. There has been a massive social impact with residents of whole villages being relocated and a loss of their homes, history, and way of life. The building of the dam also meant the loss of the spectacular Seven Falls waterfall, a popular tourist destination and landmark.