Completion of Rock Cavern for Reisseck II Pumped Storage Power Plant

12/6/2011Reißeck/Carinthia

St. Barbara's Day saw miners joining project partners VERBUND, KELAG and Energie AG to celebrate the building progress on Carinthia’s largest power plant construction site.

The rock cavern for Reisseck II, the new VERBUND pumped storage power plant in Carinthia, has been constructed in record time. Over the past months, more than 64,000 cubic meters of rock have been broken through. The machine cavern alone, in which two highly efficient pump turbines will operate from 2014, could take up the nave of Gurk cathedral with its considerable size.

Mühldorf Graben, high above Carinthia’s Möll Valley, is the location of what is currently Austria’s largest power plant building site. It is easy for the rapid progress of the construction work to be overlooked by the general public because the works for Reisseck II, the new VERBUND pumped storage power plant, are situated deep within the mountain itself.
In the space of just a few months, a 58-meter-long, 25-meter-wide and 39-meter-high rock cavern has been broken through. December 4th saw the majority of the miners, most of whom originate from Carinthia and Styria, celebrating the rapid building progress on the feast day of Saint Barbara, the traditional holiday for miners.
With the Reisseck II pumped storage power plant, VERBUND, KELAG and Energie AG are not only investing in the expansion of renewable energies in Austria, but – together with the existing reservoir power plants of Malta and Reisseck – also in the development of one of the most efficient hydropower plant groups in Europe.

Ulrike Baumgartner-Gabitzer, who, in her capacity as VERBUND board member is responsible for the hydropower sector, said on the occasion of this year’s Saint Barbara celebrations by the Reisseck II working group: “Pumped storage power plants, such as Reisseck II, are the most ecological and also the most commercially expedient way of balancing out the fluctuating generation of electricity from wind and solar power and, therewith, enabling renewable energy to be harnessed to optimum effect.”

A “Green Battery” in the Alps

Karl Heinz Gruber, technical board director of VERBUND Hydro Power AG, explained the workings of a pumped storage power plant: “In our power grid, every second of the generation and consumption of electricity must be in harmony with each other. At those times, where there is a high demand for electricity, the water from the upper reservoir is processed via the ultramodern turbines, and clean electricity is produced. By way of contrast, in periods of low consumption, when more electricity is available in the grid than is required, Reisseck II is able to store this energy efficiently. This is namely achieved through water from the lower reservoir being pumped up to the upper reservoir.” On account of this dual role, the Reisseck II power plant is transformed into a “green battery” in the mountain. By means of the two new inbuilt pump turbines, Reisseck II will demonstrate a total capacity of 430 megawatts – this applies both to the electricity generation in the turbine operation, as well as in the pump operation. Following completion in 2014, the entire plant of Malta/Reisseck will have a turbine capacity of around 1,460 MW and will thus be one of VERBUND’s most powerful reservoir groups.

As part of this year’s Saint Barbara celebrations in the completely broken through machine cavern, Michael Amerer, commercial board director of VERBUND Hydro Power AG, recalled the economic magnitude of Carinthia’s largest construction site: “Every day, up to 250 highly specialized experts are giving top performances here on the construction site in the high alpine region. The total investment in this project to the tune of 385 million Euro, which we are jointly carrying with our partners, represents a significant impetus for the economy and job market – especially against the background of a renewed gloomy economic situation. Above and beyond the national value creation, Reisseck II is primarily having a revitalising impact on the local Carinthian economy.”