Until 2020, VERBUND, Austria’s leading electricity company, will be investing 144 million Euro in the modernisation and increasing of efficiency of Austria’s oldest Danube power plant, Ybbs-Persenbeug. The extra production yielded will amount to the annual electricity consumption of 17,000 households.
Through the efficiency increasing measures that are now underway in the Danube power plant of Ybbs-Persenbeug, production will be raised by some 60 million kilowatt hours and reliability further improved. "The modernisation and increasing of efficiency have the utmost priority for our existing hydropower plants," explained Ulrike Baumgartner-Gabitzer, the board member responsible for hydropower at VERBUND. "The measures at the existing Ybbs-Persenbeug power plant enable us to significantly increase the production of electricity from hydropower – without having to structurally encroach upon the power plant surroundings – and therewith save 49,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
144 million Euro investment by 2020
The dimensions of the power plant are impressive: Ybbs-Persenbeug annually generates electricity for more than 300,000 households. "The investment of 144 million Euro is definitely worth it. In this way, Ybbs-Persenbeug will be fit for at least another 60 years. Furthermore, the Austrian national economy also benefits considerably from this investment. From experience we know that between 70 and 80% of the investment volume from our projects remains in the region or country as added value. In addition, studies have shown that investment in the e-economy results in investments of double the amount," explained Michael Amerer, commercial director at VERBUND Hydro Power AG.
Innovative technology in historic building material
Hydropower plants are strong workhorses - if well-maintained, they can keep going for many decades. "Ybbs-Persenbeug is our oldest hydropower plant on the Danube. After 400,000 hours of operation, the plant’s life cycle has long not been reached, but the latest developments in the technical area offer us the possibility to now undertake targeted improvement measures," says Karl Heinz Gruber, technical director of VERBUND Hydro Power AG. Following comprehensive planning, the turbine blades, the generator, the transformers, the high-voltage cable and the circuit breaker of the six machines is being replaced. In concrete terms this means that the blade wheels and generators are being completely disassembled. The massive components are removed and brought back again by means of a gantry crane, a floating crane and heavy-load transporter. "We therewith manage to achieve the 4.5 % increase in efficiency and are able to cover the annual electricity consumption of an additional 17,000 households," added Gruber.
In order to be able to process the future modernisation measures without losses in productivity, machine no. 7 - the most recent one in the power plant, which was retrospectively installed in Ybbs in 1996, - is being brought up-to-date. As of late, work has been underway there on modernisation of the generator and stator.
A power plant with history
After the Second World War, Ybbs-Persenbeug counted among the most prestigious projects of the reconstruction of Austria. With a capacity of 236.5 MW, it is the fourth most powerful Danube power plant in Austria and, with an annual production of 1,336 billion kilowatt hours, it avoids an annual 1.1 million tonnes of CO2. During the reconstruction period between 1954 and 1959, the power plant was a popular destination for high-ranking delegations from abroad.
Today it is a popular excursion on the Danube cycle route. The power plant’s attractiveness is growing together with that of the municipalities: During the years of renovation, visitors will be given the unique opportunity of a glimpse within the interior of a hydropower plant.