Brazil plans to build dozens of nuclear plants

September 12, 2008 - The Associated Press - Brazil

 Brazil plans to build 50 to 60 nuclear power plants in the next half-century, the nation's top energy official said Friday, as a olitical crisis in Bolivia renewed doubts about the reliability of key natural gas supplies from the Andean country.

 Construction on some of the new plants may begin as early as April.  The plan aims to reduce dependence on other energy sources, Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao told the official government news service Agencia Brasil. "The problem in Bolivia is more proof that we have to continue with our nuclear program," Lobao said.

 Street protests and invasions of energy installations have caused Bolivian natural gas shipments to Brazil to be temporarily suspended in recent days, and sparked fears of energy shortages. Fifty percent of Brazil's natural gas supply comes from Bolivia.

Lobao spoke during a visit to the construction site of Angra 3, Brazil's third nuclear power plant, in Rio de Janeiro. The plant is expected to start functioning within five years. The other two Brazilian nuclear power plants, Angra 1 and Angra 2, have an installed capacity of about 2,000 megawatts. Each new plant will have a capacity of 1,000 megawatts, according to Lobao. He said four have already received initial approval.