SAO PAULO, Jan 7 (Reuters) – The reservoirs of hydroelectric dams in southeastern and central-western Brazil could reach their highest levels since 2016 in January due to rains, low demand growth and measures to conserve water in the lakes, the operator of the national network ONS said on Friday.
He estimated that the region’s reservoirs, among the largest in the country, will end January at 40% of their capacity, compared to a previous estimate of 37% and a previous peak of 44.4% for the month of 2016.
In September, the reservoirs were at 17% of capacity, the lowest level last year, raising fears that power rationing would be needed and prompting the government to take steps to save water.
In the last three years, storage levels in the southeast and central-west reservoirs have fluctuated around 20% of capacity on average at this time of year, a risky level given that around 65% of the generation of Brazil is hydroelectric.
Last year, when the country faced the worst drought in at least 90 years, the region’s reservoirs fell to 23.3% of capacity in January.
The good level of rains this season, combined with the activation of some thermoelectric plants and the low growth in energy demand, allowed the recovery of hydroelectric reservoirs and lakes, according to Luiz Barroso, president of the PSR consultancy.
The ONS forecast on Friday that hydroelectric plants in the region will receive 105% more rain than the historical average for January, compared to 96% estimated last week.
(Information by Leticia Fucuchima; Edited in Spanish by Javier Leira)