Low-head hydropower assessment of the Brazilian State of São Paulo

Open-File Report 2014-1206
By: , and 



This study produced a comprehensive estimate of the magnitude of hydropower potential available in the streams that drain watersheds entirely within the State of São Paulo, Brazil. Because a large part of the contributing area is outside of São Paulo, the main stem of the Paraná River was excluded from the assessment. Potential head drops were calculated from the Digital Terrain Elevation Data,which has a 1-arc-second resolution (approximately 30-meter resolution at the equator). For the conditioning and validation of synthetic stream channels derived from the Digital Elevation Model datasets, hydrography data (in digital format) supplied by the São Paulo State Department of Energy and the Agência Nacional de Águas were used. Within the study area there were 1,424 rain gages and 123 streamgages with long-term data records. To estimate average yearly streamflow, a hydrologic regionalization system that divides the State into 21 homogeneous basins was used. Stream segments, upstream areas, and mean annual rainfall were estimated using geographic information systems techniques. The accuracy of the flows estimated with the regionalization models was validated. Overall, simulated streamflows were significantly correlated with the observed flows but with a consistent underestimation bias. When the annual mean flows from the regionalization models were adjusted upward by 10 percent, average streamflow estimation bias was reduced from -13 percent to -4 percent. The sum of all the validated stream reach mean annual hydropower potentials in the 21 basins is 7,000 megawatts (MW). Hydropower potential is mainly concentrated near the Serra do Mar mountain range and along the Tietê River. The power potential along the Tietê River is mainly at sites with medium and high potentials, sites where hydropower has already been harnessed. In addition to the annual mean hydropower estimates, potential hydropower estimates with flow rates with exceedance probabilities of 40 percent, 60 percent, and 90 percent were made.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Low-head hydropower assessment of the Brazilian State of São Paulo
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2014-1206
DOI 10.3133/ofr20141206
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description v, 15 p.
Country Brazil
City São Paulo
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N