Revitalisation of Häusling power plant can continue

21.04.2020Häusling, Mayrhofen

Revitalisation measures have been under way at the Häusling pumped storage power plant in Zillertal since 2019. The pump, turbines and generators from the late 1980s are being modernised on both large machine sets for considerably increased levels of efficiency. The work was brought to a halt by the measures put in place to deal with COVID-19, but can now continue – thanks in part to the support of the country’s politicians. In particular, Minister for Europe Karoline Edtstadler and Secretary of State Magnus Brunner worked intensively to find a quick solution. “The deployment of leading policymakers is to thank for delivery of the shaft train from Italy to Zillertal. The Häusling power plant can therefore soon return to making its contribution to a safe, clean and affordable electricity supply in Austria,” says VERBUND CEO Wolfgang Anzengruber, pleased about the support shown by Austrian policymakers.

In January 2020, the key component of turbine 2, the shaft train with turbine shaft and impeller, was removed and transported to a specialist company in northern Italy for overhaul. Because this region is so affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company closed just before completion of the shaft train for Häusling. Given how very important the pumped storage power plant is for the reliability of supply in Austria, high-ranking politicians, led by Secretary of State Magnus Brunner, worked hard to ensure the work continued. This led to the experts in Italy being granted special permission to resume work in Easter Week and to complete it with the necessary tests. Last week, the 10 metre-long shaft train weighing 55 tonnes finally left the factory in Italy on a special HGV – accompanied by a police escort. Just one day later, on 15 April 2020, the transport arrived at the Häusling power plant, where preparations for installation commenced without delay.

Vital for the supply of electricity  

The Häusling power plant is a pumped storage power plant and thus an important part of Austria’s secure supply of electricity from renewable sources. It is part of the Green Battery in the Alps, which stores electricity and then makes it available when needed. Such flexibility makes pumped storage power plants ideal partners for electricity generation from wind and sun. They also ensure stability in the grid by balancing our fluctuations.

Karl Heinz Gruber and Michael Amerer, the two managing directors of VERBUND Wasserkraft, underscore the special significance of the pumped storage power plants: “Hydropower is a stable, reliable factor and provides security, especially in times like these. In order to maintain this security, we invest continuously in the modernisation of our plants – as our contribution to achieving the nation’s climate and energy targets. The Häusling power plant in particular has made its own valuable contribution to the security of supply as one of the most powerful pumped storage power plants in the country. We are therefore pleased that the turbine has found its way to Zillertal, despite all the restrictions on cross-border traffic. We would like to say a big thank-you to everyone who supported and made this venture possible.”

About the project

The Häusling power plant was commissioned in 1988. Its output before the revitalisation was 360 MW with an annual generation from the natural inflow of around 187 million kilowatt hours of electricity. The water for the power plant is stored in the Zillergrund reservoir. 
The increase in efficiency will enable the power plant to generate around 2 million additional kilowatt hours of electricity from natural inflow. The revitalisation measures will increase the output of the pumps by approx. 15%, that of the turbines by approx. 10%. Despite all the aggravation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is expected that the second machine set will enter into initial operation in summer 2020. In total, VERBUND is investing around 20 million euros in the modernisation of the Häusling pumped storage power plant.

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