Last week, Forces Motrices Hongrin-Léman SA officially inaugurated Switzerland’s second most powerful pumped storage power station in Veytaux. With the FMHL+ project the capacity of the Veytaux pumped storage power station will be increased from 240 MW to 480 MW, with 60 MW acting as a reserve. To achieve this, two machine groups with 120 MW capacity each have been installed in a new cavern that has been constructed since 7 April 2011.
The pumped storage power station Veytaux will play a crucial role in supplying electricity to the French-speaking part of Switzerland. The project is the response to the increasing demand for balancing energy, which has been triggered by the rapid development of the new renewable energies that generate energy in an intermittent and fluctuating manner.
The existing power station consists of four 60 MW pelton turbines and the new additional capacity will be provided by two 120 MW generating units. The power station operates with a head of 800m from upper reservoir of Hongrin and is discharged into, and pumped from Lake Geneva.
They new units were constructed in an impressive cavern that is 100 m long, 25 m wide and 56 m high, and are controlled remotely by Alpiq’s Centre d’Exploitation et de Gestion de la Production in Lausanne. The construction work was carried out without major incidents and within budget. Veytaux pumped storage power station is Switzerland’s second most powerful behind the Linth-Limmern facility in the canton of Glarus.
The CHF 331 million invested by the FMHL partners – Romande Energie (41.14%), Alpiq (39.29%), Groupe E (13.14%) and the City of Lausanne (6.43%) – demonstrate their long-term vision within an energy context that is not very favourable for hydropower. The low wholesale prices on the European power market do not reflect the value of hydroelectric energy nor the essential role played by pumped storage power stations for the security of supply. Pumped storage power stations provide control energy that is indispensable for the balancing of the electricity grid and are currently the most efficient way of storing vast quantities of electricity and feeding them back into the grid when demand is high. Pumped storage power stations are essential in order to ensure the stability of the Swiss and European electricity grid in view of the rapid development of wind and solar energies.