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Brazil is the biggest economy in Latin

America. In order to keep
up industrial growth and provide elec
tricity for its large cities the country
needs more and
more energy. Recently the
has approved the construction of
a series of hydroelectric power
plants on the rivers of the
Amazon rainforest.
One of these projects, the Belo Monte Dam, is currently being built near the mouth of the
Amazon River. When completed it will be the third largest hydroelectric power plant in the world
after the Three Gorges Dam in China and the Itaipu Dam, currently Brazils largest.
For decades environmentalists have successfully blocked its construction. In 2010 the
government finally gave a green light to building the dam, which will provide energy for
Brazils mining industries.
Another giant dam is under construction on the Madeira River, one of the largest tributaries of
the Amazon. When finished in 2015 50turbines will be able to produce electricity, transporting it
to the big cities in the southeastern part of the country, notably Sao Paolo.
By 2025 over a hundred new dams will be constructed in the Amazon jungle. Many of the
smaller dams are to regulate water andprovide energy for smaller local industries.
Brazils energy ministry hopes that the country can increase its energy production by more than
50 per cent. As costs for fossil fuelplants are higher, only hydroelectric energy can produce the
electricity that Brazil needs in the future.
Brazils energy plans are not without criticism. Environmentalists argue that the rainforest is one
of the worlds last natural habitats. Itabsorbs carbon dioxide,
produces oxygen and regulates our climate. More than a fifth of the worlds freshwater comes
from the Amazon basin. Those against the dams are worried about the indigenous people, who

are being relocated to other areas and areforced to change their way of life. Many locals who
live around the Jirau power plant complain that they cannot go hunting and fishing, as they used
The government, however, sees many advantages in building the power plants. They not only
produce clean and efficient energy, but also provide jobs for thousands of workers. Energy
experts maintain that all the dams are being constructed in an environmentallyfriendly way. Relocating thousands of people to new towns and giving them new houses at
government costs is a small price to pay for the rewards Brazils economy will get in the future.


absorb = take up
advantage = the good side of something
approve = agree; to say yes
argue = quarrel, disagree
basin = area of low land with a river in the middle
block = not allow to happen
carbon dioxide = gas that is produced when animals breathe out or when carbon is

burned in the air

complain = to say that something is wrong
complete = finish
construct = build
currently = right now
decade = a period of ten years
economy = system by which the products of a country are produced and sold
efficient = not wasteful, effective
environmentalist = a person who worries about nature and the world around us and

wants to do something about it

environmentally friendly = good for nature and the world around us
force = have to
fossil fuel = oil, gas, coal; energy that comes from dead plants and animals that lived

millions of years
freshwater = water from lakes or rivers
growth = increase; becoming bigger
habitat = living area
however = but
hydroelectric power plant = a very big dam that blocks a river and which is used to

produce energy from water power

increase = to go up
indigenous people = people who have always lived in a place
jungle = rainforest

keep up = maintain , continue

local = in the area
maintain = say
mining = the digging of minerals from the surface of the earth
ministry = government department that is in charge of special work; like the ministry of
mouth = where a river flows into the sea
notably = especially, above all
oxygen = colorless gas that is in the air and which we need to breathe
provide = give, offer
recently = shortly; a short time ago
regulate = control
relocate = to move to another place in order to live and work there
reward = prize
series = many
tributary = a small river that flows into a larger one
turbine = engine that moves a wheel around in order to produce energy
under construction = being built