(Adds Brazil watchdog comments, specifics from report, context)
By Luciano Costa
SAO PAULO, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Brazil’s Belo Monte dam, the world’s third largest hydropower plant, will be unable to deliver the energy expected for the grid in 2016 due to construction delays in transmission lines, Brazil’s electricity watchdog Aneel said in a report seen by Reuters on Tuesday.
After several delays in the construction of the Amazon region dam, Belo Monte is now expected to start production in February with the first eight turbines out of a total of 24 planned.
The existing transmission lines, Aneel said, are enough to transport power to the grid from the first eight turbines, but there will not be new lines in place later in the year when other turbines will become ready to generate.
“There is an expected mismatching between the generation and the transmission works,” said the regulator.
Delays in transmission lines for new generation projects is one of the principal factors for Brazil’s chronic electricity sector crisis.
The problem of delayed transmission lines has blocked several wind farms, for example, from linking with the grid recently, as well as some hydropower plants.
Located on the Xingu river, Belo Monte is expected to meet future power needs in Brazil. Delays in the project’s completion will make it harder for Brazil to bring down high energy costs.
When completed, Belo Monte is expected to have required 26 billion reais ($6.84 billion) in investments.
It will have a installed capacity of 11,200 megawatts (MW) when fully operational, only smaller than Three Gorges, in China, and Itaipu, on the Brazilian border with Paraguay.
Companies behind the project include Brazil’s state-run utility Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA, Companhia Energetica de Minas Gerais SA, Vale SA and Neoenergia SA. ($1 = 3.80 Brazilian reais) (Writing by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and W Simon)