Home Business A huge “water battery” built under the Alps is in operation in Switzerland

A huge “water battery” built under the Alps is in operation in Switzerland

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A huge “water battery” built under the Alps is in operation in Switzerland

A huge “water battery” built in the heart of the Swiss Alps becomes operational these days. The operating principle is simple but at the same time ingenious: above the mountain there are two large water reservoirs at different heights; when there is a need for electricity, from the reservoir located at the highest level, the water passes to the lower one through turbines that generate electricity, exactly as happens in traditional hydroelectric plants. On the other hand, when there is an overabundance of energy in the electrical network, hydraulic pumps take care of bringing the water back from the lower reservoir to the upper one. The electricity production capacity is equal to 900 MW, obtained through six turbines and sufficient to supply energy to 900 thousand homes, while the storage capacity is equal to 20 million kWh.

14 years to build

The water coil was designed and built by the Swiss company Nant de Drance. The heart lies 600 meters underground between the reservoirs of Emosson and Vieux Emosson, in the canton of Valais. Construction took 14 years, due to the significant engineering and logistical problems to be solved, including for example the need to build a total of 18 kilometers of tunnel under the Alps, needed to transport the construction material. At the center of the plant there is a vast room, 200 meters long and 32 wide, which contains the pumps necessary to “recharge the battery”, bringing the water from the lower reservoir to the upper one.

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Increased the size of the reservoir

In the years between 2012 and 2016, the height of the Vieux Emosson dam was increased by 20 meters to allow the basins to store more water and create more energy.

Thanks to this battery, it will be possible to produce part of the needs of the Swiss and European electricity grid at times of greatest need, while storing electricity at times when demand is lowest.

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