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Blackout hits "power island" claim

The power cut that left 60 million Brazilians in the dark has cast doubts over Rio’s claim to the International Olympic Committee that it could be immune from blackouts by 2016.

The city had touted itself as a potential “power island”, immune from national grid outages and reliant on its own, separate supply. The Olympic venues themselves will be supported with power from new wind and solar power projects.

Bid organisers claimed Rio had the capacity to produce more energy than it could consume, with natural gas-fired plants and nuclear energy facilities nearby.

“Producing energy and getting it on the grid are two different problems. It’s the same in the United States.”

Johanna Mendelson Forman, Centre for Strategic and International Studies

But red flags were raised by storms that short-circuited transformers on a transmission line from the Itaipu dam, said Johanna Mendelson Forman, an energy expert with the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, adding that creating a separate power supply for the city would be a complicated project.

“Producing energy and getting it on the grid are two different problems,” she said.

“It’s the same in the United States. There are a lot of places that produce a lot of energy, but the challenge is getting it onto a grid that is antiquated.”

The bid committee has so far refused to comment on the blackout.

Readers' comments (1)

  • The 2012 Olympics in the UK will be great. We will overcome all our problems and 2012 will be the best Olympics ever. When 2016 comes Brazill will show us all how to do it. They will overcome all the challanges and theirs will then be the best. As a retired power supply engineer I would be pleased to come and give you a hand. Best of British with your bid.

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