Giant Swiss water battery
The “water battery” at Nant de Drance has a capacity of 20 million kWh of electricity. It will help stabilize the electrical grids in Switzerland and Europe by reducing the chances of grid overload when demand is high, and providing more power when needed.
It took up to 650 construction workers working on the site simultaneously, and about 60 companies working together to complete the project.
Six underground turbines are located 600 meters (1,968 ft) underground in a cave between the Emosson and Vieux Emosson reservoirs in Valais, southern Switzerland.
Emosson, the lower reservoir, is the second largest in Switzerland, and its 180 m (590 ft) dam is the fifth highest in the country.
The upper reservoir of Vieux Emosson holds 25 million cubic meters of water, which represents a storage capacity of 20 million kWh. It was raised by 21.5 meters (70.5 ft) in order to double its capacity.
Each underground turbine has a capacity of 150 MW. A turbine can go from pumping at full capacity to a turbine at full capacity in less than five minutes, and it takes less than 10 minutes to switch from turbine mode to pumping mode. Three hundred and sixty cubic meters of water per second pass through the turbine.
When there is a lot of electricity in the network, the water is pumped from the lower tank to the upper tank, and the excess energy is stored in the upper tank.
When power is needed, water flows from the upper tank and through the six underground turbines to the lower tank in order to generate electricity.
This animation shows how it works:
Nant de Drance SA and its shareholders Alpiq, SFR, IWB and FMV will open the power plant in September.
Read more: Eco Wave Power will build Spain’s first wave power plant
Photos: Nantes from France
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