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Nant de Drance: Construction work to start on pumped storage power station

On 25 August 2008, the Swiss Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) issued the Concession and Construction License for the building of the pumped storage power station Nant de Drance in the Swiss canton of Valais. The contract for the construction work goes to the "Groupement Marti Implenia".

Concession and Construction License have been issued

With the issuing of the Concession and the Construction Licence, a further important milestone has been achieved on the path to a secure future energy supply for Switzerland and the public transport. It is now foreseen that a start on the construction work for the 600 megawatt Nant de Drance (NdD) project should be made in September and that the construction and operating company, "Bau- und Betriebsgesellschaft NdD SA", should be founded with Atel holding 60% and the SBB a 40% share. The project is budgeted at around 990 million Swiss francs with additional cost limitations during the construction and operation being reserved. The second-placed competitor consortium filed an objection against the awarding of the main construction contract by Atel and the Swiss Railways SBB to the consortium "Groupement Marti Implenia". However, this objection was rejected last week by the Assessment Committee of the Canton of Solothurn.

The Nant de Drance project intends to use the difference in height between the two existing reservoirs, Emosson and Vieux Emosson, on land belonging to the Valais border municipality Finhaut and situated between the towns of Martigny and Chamonix, for the generation of peak-load electricity. The Nant de Drance power station is designed for turbine and pump capacities of around 600 Megawatts. The plant will be built completely underground. Access to the cavern, which lies 1,800 metres above sea level, will be via a five kilometre long tunnel. Thus the large power station can be built with minimal effects on the environment.

With a view to the development of demand at peak times, Nant de Drance will provide an important contribution both to the security of supply in the Swiss electricity grid and to covering the pronounced load peaks in the railways operating network of the SBB and several private railways such as TRAVYS or BLS, which are supplied with electricity by the SBB. Thanks to the appropriate machine technologies, variations in the supply grid as well as those caused by the irregular output from renewable energy sources can be compensated within the shortest possible time. With its state-of-the-art technologies, the plant will operate with an exceptionally high efficiency in excess of 80 percent.


Further information about the project together with press photos for downloading can be found under or obtained via