In September, Odebrecht Engineering & Construction International - Infrastructure concluded Portugal's largest project in the energy segment over recent decades: the Baixo Sabor Hydroelectric Power Plant, located on the Sabor River in the North region.
Designed to meet 20% of the country's strategic energy reserve and offer support to the four existing hydroelectric power plants on the Douro River, Baixo Sabor consists of two dams located on the Sabor River, separated by 10 Km, as well as two reservoirs. Besides the construction of the hydroelectric power plant, the contract was also responsible for a series of complementary work, such as roads, a tunnel for rechanneling fish and the relocation of a 17th century church.
“One of our most important feats, the construction project highlights our more than 28 years of operation in Portugal and our continuous contribution to sustainable development," emphasized Fábio Januário, Senior Officer of the Business in Portugal.
In the shape of a dome
One of the differentials of the hydroelectric power plant is the larger dam, located upstream from the river. With a dome-shaped structure, it is 123 m high and has a thickness varying from 6-40 m. Concluding it required the application of complex methodologies, such as construction inside artificially chilled blocks. The dam is already the country's second largest, with the capacity to store 1 billion m³ of water.
Another highlight was efficient water management, using a reversible system. This system uses wind energy to pump water – which would be wasted during the night – back into the reservoirs.
Another challenge was the location. Baixo Sabor is situated in a territory rich in natural heritage, with areas classified as Special Protection Zones. In order to preserve the local ecosystem, the Business created a monitoring commission, formed by 15 environmental entities, that helped compensate and minimize impacts.
Within this context, the Business created the Environmental Interpretation and Animal Rehabilitation Center, building galleries for bats and dams for animals like the Black Stork. There is also the permanent monitoring of species threatened with extinction, such as the wolf, Pyrenean Desman and raptor birds like the Harpy Eagle.
In order to preserve the region's rich history, which dates back 500,000 years A.C, experts undertook the largest archeological project along the Iberian Peninsula, with 184 archeologists mobilized and 3,000 sites excavated manually – together, they are as large as eight soccer fields. The work identified and catalogued some 850,000 pieces and fragments and 2,000 rock art slabs from the period ranging from 40,000 to 10,000 A.C.
For Gilberto Costa, Contract Director, the technical quality of the teams and methodologies used were essential to the project's success. "Our work guaranteed the delivery of the construction work with the quality the client expected of us," said Januário.
Fábio Januário, Senior Officer of the Business in Portugal, also highlighted the members' commitment. “Meeting the high standards required, with a 100% Portuguese team formed during the course of our operations in the country, was undoubtedly our greatest achievement," said Costa.
The project allowed for the generation of 1,750 direct job opportunities (60% of which were occupied by professionals from the region) and 5,000 indirect ones. The project's technical team was made up of 30% women.