Brazil will increase the use of nuclear energy if it cannot build enough hydroelectric plants, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Thursday.
"We either build the hydroelectric plants we need or we'll enter the nuclear age," Lula said during the inauguration of a hydro-powered plant in central Minas Gerais state. Lula da Silva last week split up the environmental protection agency Ibama, saying it was too slow in granting operating licenses for infrastructure projects such as hydroelectric plants. The government is particularly interested in two hydro dams on the Amazon basin's Madeira River. Lula da Silva is also to decide in coming weeks whether Brazil will build a third nuclear energy plant. Work on the Angra 3 reactor, 100 km from Rio de Janeiro, was halted in 1985 due to lack of funds. Completion of the 1,350 megawatt power plant would cost over 1.5 billion US dollars. Brazil relies on dams to generate around 90 percent of its energy. Oil and gas plants are more expensive than hydro and nuclear energy, and Brazil has a shortage of fossil fuels, Lula said. "We can't continue depending on gas we don't have. We need to think about the type of energy in our matrix" insisted the Brazilian president. According to Lula da Silva Brazil is one of the regional candidates to suffer an energy crisis beginning 2012, therefore it's essential not to continue depending on imported natural gas from Bolivia. Brazil's Petrobras has threatened to litigate with Bolivia for a fair compensation, over the recent Evo Morales administration decision to nationalize the oil and gas industry. The Brazilian Electric Energy Agency estimates the country needs to increase generating capacity by 3.096 MW annually to help sustain current economic growth. Brazil's electricity generation capacity now stands at 98.14 terawatts.