GDF Suez and International Power are to expand the output of the Jirau hydropower project in Brazil by 450 MW after winning a concession in the country’s latest energy auctions.

The two companies have won six units in the energy auction that will allow them to increase Jirau from its planned capacity of 3300 MW to 3750 MW. Around 209 MW of the additional capacity will be sold into Brazil’s regulated market for 30 years at an inflation-indexed price of R$102/MWh, starting in 2014. The balance will be sold into the liberalised market.

Jirau is the largest hydropower project under construction in the world, and its expansion illustrates GDF Suez’s and International Power’s desire to increase exposure to fast-growing markets, said GDF Suez CEO Gérard Mestrallet.

“The energy auction price and our decision to add six units to the Jirau plant allows us to capitalise on the attractive fundamentals of the Brazilian energy market, which is characterised by strong demand growth,” said Philip Cox, CEO of International Power, which is 70 per cent owned by GDF Suez.

International Power owns 50.1 per cent of project company Energia Sustentavel do Brasil (ESBR) that is building Jirau on the Madeira river.