BNDES said that the 855MW hydro scheme being built on the river Uruguai between the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina was one of the best currently being implemented.

The project will see a reservoir of 79km2 created, of which about half will be along the main river bed. For the past five years the project has had 40% of its energy contracted for future supply to its sponsors – the partners being CEEE, Furnas and Pentagono – and the balance to be sold on the market.

The Foz do Chapeco project is scheduled to have the first unit commissioned in August 2010 and the fourth, and last, unit in March 2011. The bank said the total cost of the hydro project and transmission links is almost US$1.2bn.

Accounting for about three-quarters of the total scheme cost, the approval of the financing of by BNDES will see it provide US$590M and the balance come from other banks, including Bradesco, Santander, Banco do Brasil and Safra.