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WVU in partnership with Itaipu Dam, one of seven wonders of the modern world

Rising 65 stories from the bedrock of the seventh largest river in the world, the Itaipu Dam harnesses the immense power of moving water to generate electricity. Now the mega-structure will also be able to harness the knowledge and expertise of West Virginia University’s engineers and scientists.

Itaipu Dam

Photo credit: Deni Williams

WVU’s Energy Institute and the Itaipu Dam, a bi-national entity run by Paraguay and Brazil and one of top hydroelectric power producers in the world, have entered into a partnership to promote workforce and economic development, innovations in water resource management and other environmental and renewable energy projects.

Representatives from the international dam and the Paraguay Embassy recently met with Brian Anderson, director of the institute, and other University officials to formalize the agreement.

“This partnership between West Virginia University and Itaipu is unprecedented,” Anderson said. “To meld WVU’s energy and engineering expertise with Itaipu’s outstanding engineers and ecological staff is going to be amazing. We hope to move quickly to get some projects off the ground.”

Anderson said examples of collaboration include water resource management, clean water resources and the ecology surrounding them, water reclamation, solar power and other modern technologies. Various WVU colleges will be involved including the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and Economics and others.

WVU students will also benefit from the partnership by engaging in undergraduate and graduate research and on-site internships.

David Stewart, associate vice president of global strategies and international affairs, helped coordinate the agreement and said the research and studies that could result from this agreement are diverse.

“The Itaipu Dam is truly an amazing structure,” Stewart said. “I can see research and study into the construction of the dam itself, the rerouting of the river, the negotiations that took place between the two countries to even undertake this project, the social and environmental fallout from such a major undertaking and more. It is truly an exciting partnership for West Virginia University.”

The Itaipu Dam, located on the border between Paraguay and Brazil, opened in the early 1980s and is considered one of the seven modern Wonders of the World. It runs 4.8 miles in length and is the height of a 65-story building. It took nearly seven years to build.

The dam annually generates 75 terrawatt hours (TWh) of electricity, supplying approximately 75 percent of the electricity consumed by Paraguay and 17 percent of that consumed by Brazil. To put it in perspective, the Itaipu Dam produces six times as much power as the Hoover Dam and is 10 times as heavy and 18 times the size.

The resource used to run this dam is the Paraná River, which forms a natural barrier between the two countries. The name “Itaipu” was taken from a small island that existed near the construction site.
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