Contrasting pro-dams arguments with the energy demands of local communities surrounding the Belo Monte dam

Authors: Letícia Santos De Lima*, Michigan State University, Maria Claudia Lopez, Michigan State University, Miquéias Calvi, Universidade Federal do Pará
Topics: South America, Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Energy
Keywords: energy demand, hydropower, Amazon, local communities, energy supply
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Hydropower dams have been proliferating throughout the Amazon region, imposing threats to freshwater ecosystems and challenges for local communities. A common argument made by supporters of dams in the Amazon has been that local communities do not have access to safe and regular sources of energy and, therefore, hydropower could constitute a long-term solution for this demand. Government concerns with the lack of energy in the Brazilian Amazon have driven the creation of a federal program called "Luz para Todos" (Energy for All). However, it still remains unclear if the energy generated by dams in the Amazon and in particular the energy from Belo Monte dam is in fact meeting local demands or is being diverted to other regions of the country. In this study we aim at analyzing energy supply and demands by local communities surrounding the Belo Monte hydropower dam, located in the federal state of Pará, Brazil. Our goal is to contrast the common pro-dams arguments with the actual situation that these communities have been facing. We used data from different sources: (a) demography data from IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística); (b) Luz para Todos program; (c) and ONS (Operador Nacional do Sistema Elétrico). We also collected information provided in the form of semi-structured interviews with local researchers from the UFPA (Universidade Federal do Pará) and consultancy professionals. Our preliminary results suggest that the current situation portrayed on interviews and secondary data does not match the common pro-dam argument of energy supply for local communities.

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