Massive pumped-hydro storage facility comes online in Switzerland


From pv magazine Global

Swiss renewable energy producer Alpiq announced last week that a 900 MW pumped-hydro storage facility built in Finhaut, in the canton of Valais, Switzerland, has started commercial operations.

The hydropower station is owned by Alpiq itself (39%), Swiss Federal Railways (36%), Industrielle Werke Basel (15%), and Forces Motrices Valaisannes (10%). Its construction started in 2008 and it uses two different water reservoirs at the Émosson Dam, which was completed in 1974.

Located in a cave 600 m underground between the Emosson and Vieux Emosson reservoirs, the Nant de Drance power plant relies on six pump turbines, each with a power capacity of 150 MW. It uses the Emosson and Vieux Emosson reservoirs to operate. The water stored in the upper reservoir of Vieux-Emosson, which has a storage capacity of 227,000,000 m3, or 20 million kWh, falls into the underground power station via two vertical shafts that are 425 m high.

The project was built at a cost of approximately CHF 2 billion ($2.09 billion) and saw the participation of 60 enterprises. It required the excavation of 400,000 m3 of rock and the drilling of 17 km of galleries.

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