Pumped storage power plant Kaprun upper stage & Limberg 2

The Kaprun upper stage/Limberg 2 pumped storage power plant is located in the municipality of Kaprun in the province of Salzburg and is part of a large generation group of storage reservoirs and power plants.

Nestled in the mountain ranges of the Hohe Tauern at the foot of Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner, the Mooserboden, Wasserfallboden, Margaritze and Klammsee reservoirs are fed by the Pasterzen glacier and other mountain streams.

The Kaprun Oberstufe/Limberg 2 pumped storage power plant pumps water from the lower Wasserfallboden reservoir into the Mooserboden reservoir and converts the power of this water back into electrical energy as required, thus supplying valuable balancing and control energy for the power grid.

Security of the energy supply

The impressive dam walls of the Kaprun high mountain reservoirs and the intelligent combination of reservoirs with storage and pumped storage power plants make the Kaprun power plant group an important element of Austria’s energy supply. 

Around 50% of the water stored in the Mooserboden and Wasserfallboden reservoirs and used for electricity generation in the Kaprun Upper Stage and Kaprun Main Stage power pants comes from the south of the Alps; most of it is meltwater from the Pasterzen glacier of the Großglockner.

Water from the lower-lying Wasserfallboden reservoir can be pumped into the Mooserboden reservoir by the pumps in the Kaprun upper level power plant.

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Image from the Location

Owner VERBUND Hydro Power GmbH
Operator VERBUND Hydro Power GmbH
Commissioning 1956
Type Pumped-storage power plant
Country Austria
Region Salzburg, Carinthia
Waters Salzach, Kapruner Ache
Output 593 MW
Annual output 152,092 MWh
Turbine Francis
Connectivity No fish bypass
The power plant construction site of Limberg II (construction period 2006-2011) high up in the ecologically sensitive mountains. VERBUND placed particular importance on protecting flora and fauna as early as the planning phase. 

Environment and nature in focus during the construction of Limberg II

Together with the Institute for Ecology of the Haus der Natur (House of Nature) in Elsbethen/Salzburg, the preliminary surveys were carried out in accordance with the strictest of guidelines. The experts recorded the flora and fauna and analysed possible effects of the project on the valley’s residents and on tourism. Particularly valuable areas with endangered plant species, special vegetation structures and trees that characterise the landscape were declared off limits and granted protection. Rare plants – such as the alpine umbel growing below the Limberg barrier – were marked and carefully transplanted to protected sites. Existing wetland vegetation has been permanently protected, and newly created bodies of water promote above all amphibian fauna – including toads, grass frogs, mountain newts and alpine salamanders.

Land restoration measures

VERBUND used the “seed-soil combination process” specially developed by the Institute of Ecology to green open-cast rock storage and construction site areas. The new method enables land restoration in locations with very short vegetation periods and slow plant growth. An area of around 16.5 ha, with excavated material from the tunnel, cavern and waterway, is today once again an alpine meadow with valuable plants. The spoil left behind during the construction of the Drossensperre dam about 50 years ago as well as the concrete foundations were also renaturalised.

Sustainable construction at pumped storage power plant Limberg II

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Mooserboden and Wasserfallboden storage facilities:

The final level of the Mooserboden storage facility is 2,036 m above sea level. The topographical situation required two damming structures for the storage facility: the Mooser dam and the Drossen dam. The final level of the Wasserfallboden storage facility is located at an elevation of 1,672 m above sea level and includes the damming structure, the Limberg dam. 

Limberg I

The powerhouse was built entirely on rock at the foot of the Limberg dam. Two sets of machinery with horizontal shafts (two Francis turbines) and a total bottleneck capacity of 112 MW (without auxiliary sets of machinery) are installed in the powerhouse. Each set of machinery comprises a Francis turbine, a motor generator, a gear coupling and a two-stage, double-flow pump. 110 kV indoor switchgear was installed in the powerhouse. The energy is conducted via a 110 kV double-circuit transmission line to the Kaprun open-air switchgear.

Limberg II

Limberg II, the “green battery”, represents the most significant expansion of the Kaprun power plant group since the commissioning of the upper stage in 1956. Two caverns, a power cavern and a transformer cavern were built underground in the rocks. Two vertically installed pump turbines, each with an intake capacity of 72 m³/sec, deliver 240 MW of valuable peak energy each during pumping and turbine operation.