With the touch of a button, Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner and Provincial Governor Peter Kaiser, along with the Board and Directors of VERBUND, Kelag and Energie AG Oberösterreich, started the machines for the new pumped storage power plant Reisseck II. The 400 million euro power plant was erected completely within the mountain and will provide a significant contribution to the energy future.
At 1 p.m. the moment had arrived: With the touch of a button in the cavern at 1,600 m altitude, high above the Carinthian Mölltal Valley, Vice Chancellor and Minister of Energy Reinhold Mitterlehner and Provincial Governor Peter Kaiser, along with the Board and Directors of VERBUND, Kelag and Energie AG Oberösterreich, started the machines for the new pumped storage power plant Reisseck II.
For six years, the area of the Mühldorfer Graben valley was home to the highest-altitude hydropower plant construction site in Austria. Within the mountain a 43 metre high and 58 metre long rock cavern was excavated. Using an 880 tonne tunnel boring machine, a kilometre-long tunnel was bored through to the Grosser Mühldorfer See Lake within the mountain at 2,200 metres altitude.
All the power plant components, such as the 200 tonne generators and the transformers, had to be transported with heavy-duty transport vehicles from the Mölltal Valley up the mountain and into the cavern. As many as 350 skilled workers were at work simultaneously in the high-alpine project area. A total of three million working hours went into the construction of the Reisseck II pumped storage power plant.
"The new power plant is a farsighted and innovative investment. With this, we are making a clean, secure and sustainable energy supply possible", says Economics and Energy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner. Reisseck II is one of the most important power plant projects of the past years. "400 million euros were invested in order to supply up to 250,000 households with sustainable energy, to stimulate the regional value creation and secure hundreds of jobs", Mitterlehner highlights the positive effects. "With pumped storage power plants we strengthen the supply reliability and Austria's role as a 'green battery' in the Alpine region. Along with this we are also supporting the attainment of the energy and climate goals", says Mitterlehner, who also highlights the good cooperation between the federal government, the province and the energy companies.
"This is a project of superlatives", notes Provincial Governor Peter Kaiser at the commissioning of the power plant: "I am very proud of what the 'hydrobuilders' have achieved. The significance of this power plant goes far beyond this region, even far beyond Austria, because Reisseck II is also an important step towards achieving the climate goals."
The "green battery" Reisseck II is an important building block for our energy future
The core of the new power plant is the two highly efficient pump turbines, which together have a rating of 430 megawatts. In order to generate electricity, during turbine operation up to 80,000 litres of water per second from the Mühldorfer See lake can be fed through the 3.5 kilometre long pressure tunnel to the turbines and continue to the Gösskar and Galgenbichl reservoirs.
If, however, there is too much power in the grid, Reisseck II can store this energy by pumping water back up to the Mühldorfer See lake.
The power plant within the mountain can accommodate the simultaneous electricity output of around 200 wind turbines, and when needed, make it available again at the touch of a button. This will make the pumped storage power plant Reisseck II, as a "green battery" in the Alps, an important building block for our energy future.
"Power storage facilities are of crucial importance in a renewable energy system. They serve to maintain the supply reliability and bridge the gap between supply and demand, particularly in low-wind and low-sun periods", remarks VERBUND Chairman of the Board Wolfgang Anzengruber. "We are celebrating this day with pride and joy, and we wish the new power plant Reisseck II as many economical hours of operation as possible in the shared European electricity market!"
With Reisseck II, one of the largest power plant groups in Europe is coming into existence
With the new pumped storage power plant Reisseck II, the VERBUND power plant systems Reisseck and Malta, which were hydraulically separate up until now, are connected to one another, giving rise to one of Europe's largest hydropower plant groups with a turbine rating of more than 1,450 megawatts. This power plant group will be in daily use to offset fluctuations in the power supply and to reliably cover peak power demands.
Leo Windtner, General Manager and Chairman of the Board of Energie AG Oberösterreich, notes: "The expansion of the power plant group is of particular significance for Energie AG Oberösterreich: On the one hand we can use an important storage resource, and on the other we can further optimise our procurement portfolio. In times of very volatile production by the new renewable energy sources sun and wind, green batteries such as the pumped storage power plant Reisseck II are indispensable for a reliable supply!"
90 percent of the 400 million euro investment flowed into Austrian value creation
VERBUND, along with its long-standing partners Kelag and Energie AG Oberösterreich, together invested around 400 million euros in the pumped storage power plant Reisseck II. 90 percent of the investment total flowed into the Austrian economy in the form of contracts with domestic value creation. More than 50 million euros of local and regional value creation will remain in Carinthia.
Armin Wiersma from the Kelag board: "Our involvement in the power plant Reisseck II is, at approx. 200 million euros, the largest single investment in the more than 90-year history of our company, and is therefore a milestone for our company and our electricity generation. With these electricity procurement rights, our production capacity is increasing by 16 %, to approx. 1,330 MW. This investment means a large step towards our strategic goal of supplying all our customers with electricity from our own renewable production."
Eight million euros flowed into a broad range of ecological support measures, whereby particularly the restoration in the high-alpine area far above the tree line is setting new standards internationally.