Power plant group Kaprun supplying electricity for 50 years

9/19/2005Wien

The storage power plant group Kaprun will soon celebrate its 50th anniversary: on 23 September 1955, the year in which the treaty was signed, a topping-off ceremony was held at Mooserboden to mark the official completion of what, in those days, was regarded as a gigantic construction project.

Today, VERBUND, Austria's leading electricity company, is working on the power plant project “Limberg II” which will double the capacity of the power plant group Kaprun.

Not forgotten on this anniversary are the thousands of prisoners, forced labourers and foreign civilian workers who worked on the previous project from 1938 under the NS regime.

Three years ago, an independent historian’s commission was commissioned by VERBUND to comprehensively document the fate of these people. VERBUND now contributes to the reconciliation fund on the basis of the commission’s findings.

Up until the end of the war, Kaprun was only completed in small sections. From 1945 onwards, there was an acute shortage of electricity in Austria and power cuts often lasted a couple of days, particularly in Eastern Austria. Many Austrians keenly awaited the further extension of the Tauern power plant.

In 1947, the newly founded “Tauernkraftwerke AG” was commissioned with the extension work. Within just a couple of months, Kaprun became the largest and most famous construction site in Austria with approx. 2,600 workers. Films such as “Weißes Gold” (White Gold) or “Das Lied von Kaprun” (Song of Kaprun) were based on the “Myth of Kaprun”; documentaries spoke in superlatives of the “titan work” on “Austria’s energy machine”.

Funds from the US-American “Marshall-Plan” were used to complete the power plant group: on 23 September 1955, after a construction period of 17 years, the two barrage walls, each of which was over 100 meters high, were completed.

Today, the storage power plant group Kaprun is operated by the VERBUND subsidiary VERBUND-Austrian Hydro Power AG (AHP) which has approx. 80 employees. The power plant group has a maximum capacity of 505 Megawatt (MW), the average annual generation amounts to 670 million kilowatt hours of peak-load electricity.

Given that the demand for electricity in Austria is growing continuously, AHP plans, within the framework of the “Limberg II” project, to build a modern pumped-storage power plant within a construction period of six years. The plant utilizes the existing Mooserboden und Wasserfallboden storage lakes and will be built underground - thus fully preserving the natural landscape - in a 60-meter cavern.

Limberg II will double the capacity of the power plant group to just under 1,000 MW. The investment volume comes to € 365 million. The employment effect amounts to 5,000 man-years and will result in 800 additional jobs during each year of construction in the Pinzgau region.