Five-miles-wide and requiring enough concrete to build five Hoover Dams, the Itaipu Dam spans the Parana River at the Brazil/Paraguay border. During its construction, workers shifted the course of the seventh largest river in the world by digging a 1.3-mile bypass. To accomplish this they had to remove 50 million tons of earth and rock.
The main dam, as high as a 65-story building, is composed of hollow concrete segments; while the flanking wings are earth and rock fill. Enough iron and steel was used at Itaipu to build 300 Eiffel Towers. Another marvel of Itaipu is its powerhouse. Measuring one-half-mile long, it is partially submerged and contains 18 hydroelectric generators, each 53-feet across. Some 160-tons of water-per-second pour onto each turbine, generating 12,600-megawatts, enough to power most of California.
Itaipu supplies 28 percent of all the electric energy in Brazil's south, southeast and central-west regions, and 72 percent of Paraguay's total energy consumption.
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