The constantly increasing demand for balancing and regulating energy in a developing European energy market is forcing VERBUND-Austrian Hydro Power AG (AHP) - Austria’s largest power supplier of environmentally friendly hydroelectricity - to rethink its strategy regarding the expansion of its power plant capacities. One of the projects of interest in this regard is the following: The expansion of the Kaprun power plant group by a modern pumped storage power plant. The basic resolution of the supervisory board to continue with inspection and project implementation sends the Limberg II project into a new, decisive phase.
The modern pumped storage power plant with a capacity of 480 megawatt is capable of near doubling the output of the Kaprun power plant group (from 505 megawatt so far to 985 megawatt). With an investment volume of approx. 365 million Euro, valuable economic impulses can be created not just for the region but for all of Austria.
“The need for modern pumped storage power plants such as Limberg II has experienced an above average rise in recent years. Especially the enforced expansion of the decentralised, alternative energy generation forms, such as, for example, wind power, has brought with it a lively demand for new products and qualities such as balancing and regulating energy, in order to safeguard a secure and steady network operation,” Dr. Herbert Schröfelbauer, chairman of the board of AHP, comments. Negative examples, such as the large-scale blackouts in the U.S.A. and Italy, but also the near energy blackout in Austria at the beginning of this year, have shown us very clearly that the need for action is very stringent in Europe also.
The AHP stands by its responsibility to make its contribution to certainty of power supply in Austria, and in a European context, and also to ensure the customary high standards are maintained in the long term. Through the Limberg II project, the Kaprun power plant group, once a symbol of post-Second World War Austrian rebuilding, is being expanded to meet the current demands of the electricity market. Back at the beginning of the Seventies, various opportunities were investigated with a view to increasing supply, and in 1994 water law approval was given for an underground power plant close to the Limberg dam: but in view of the liberalisation of the electricity market at the time, the project was not implemented at that stage. “On the grounds of the altered circumstances already described and the development of the European electricity market, the AHP has now decided to reinstate the Limberg II project,“ Mag. Michael Amerer, Member of the AHP Board of Directors, added.
Working on the basis of the water law approval already in existence, those responsible for the project will take every step necessary to obtain all the outstanding official licences and approvals. “We will of course be precisely analysing and examining all data, and cooperating closely with the authorities. Naturally the project can only come to fruition if all the conditions imposed by the authorities can be fulfilled. We are extremely confident that we are in a position to do so,” Schröfelbauer emphasises. After the preparations have been completed, work should commence in spring 2006. After the planned commissioning in 2011, up to 144 cubic metres of water a second will flow from the Mooserboden reservoir through 5.4 kilometres of pressure tunnels to two cascade sets each producing some 240 megawatt in turbine or pump operation.
Just how much account has been taken of environmentally friendly procedures and the protection of nature is shown in the planning of the Limberg II project. The entire power plant, with its pressure tunnels and turbines, will be built underground, and even in other ways any impact on nature will be kept within bounds, because both necessary reservoirs - Mooserboden and Wasserfallboden - are already available. For neighbours and tourists, only the entrance way to the subterranean cavern will be visible. “And to link up with the building site we are planning a new tunnel, which will lead from the area of the glacier car park into the cavern,” assures AHP Director Mag. Michael Amerer.