Construction permit granted to increase capacity

On 20 December 2010 Forces Motrices Hongrin-Léman SA (FMHL) was granted a construction permit for the FMHL+ project. The project aims to install two additional turbine groups in an underground cavern near Veytaux power station to increase the installed capacity from 240 to 480 Megawatts, of which 60 Megawatts will be used as reserve power. This will virtually double the annual production volume of the pump storage station to 1 billion Kilowatt hours of peak load energy. The new facility is scheduled to go into operation at the end of 2014.

No objections were lodged against the application to build FMHL+, which was submitted to the municipalities of Veytaux and Villeneuve on 25 June 2010. The project was also approved by the responsible authorities in the canton of Vaud and the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). On 17 May 2010 the cantons of Vaud and Fribourg approved the technical amendments to the existing licence, following which the FMHL Board of Directors launched the CHF 331 million construction project.

Around 1 billion Kilowatt hours of peak load energy

FMHL owns a pump storage power station driven by hydropower. The facility's originality is due to the fact that water from Hongrin reservoir is turbined down 800 meters to Veytaux power station, and the process is reversed at off-peak times, when water is pumped from Lake Geneva up to Hongrin reservoir to hold in reserve for peak-load times. The aim of the FMHL+ project is to increase the plant's total capacity by building a new underground cavern near the existing cavern in Veytaux. The existing power station has been in operation for 40 years, and as part of an upgrade there are plans to install two additional pump turbine groups with an installed capacity of 240 Megawatts, of which 60 Megawatts will be used as reserves. This will bring the plant's total installed capacity to 480 Megawatts: 420 for operations and 60 as reserve capacity. The power station will generate around 1 billion Kilowatt hours of peak-load energy: virtually twice the current volume of 520 million Kilowatt hours. The surge chamber needs to be modified, but neither Hongrin dam nor the penstocks and pressure shaft require any changes.

An indispensable supplement to renewable energies

The project was devised in response to the growing need for balancing energy which is used at peak times to balance supply with demand. The reason for the increase in demand in Europe and Switzerland is mainly due to efforts to expand renewables such as wind or solar power, the generation of which is directly dependent on weather conditions. As such it is irregular and must be topped up with balancing energy. Thanks to their reservoirs, pump storage power stations are veritable energy storehouses, able to feed electricity into the grid as and when required, offering an efficient and immediate means of bridging gaps in power generation.

Further information:

Pierre-Alain Urech Chairman of FMHL +41 21 802 95 67 E-mail: pierre-alain.urechmail@romande-energieweb.ch