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Voith installs pump to manage reservoir water at Swiss power plant

A rendering of the new Ritom pumped storage power plant in Switzerland. Credit: SBB
A rendering of the new Ritom pumped storage power plant in Switzerland. Credit: SBB
Under a new contract for the Ritom pumped storage power plant in Switzerland, technology group Voith will install a 60MW capacity storage water pump.

With a delivery head of more than 700m, the unit will be used to pump water for reservoir management and to provide balancing power from the Airolo basin to Lake Ritom.

In combination with a turbine, the pump can provide operating reserve to quickly regulate and stabilise the grid, with a high degree of flexibility.

According to Voith, this means that the new power plant will provide a feed-in reserve/intake balance of 60MW for Switzerland’s 50Hz grid.

“In addition, the storage pump can be speeded up with the help of the 50Hz Pelton turbines using back-to-back starting and synchronised with the grid. In this situation the power of the turbine is used to start the pump in the water,” explained Christian Matten, project manager at Voith Hydro Europe.

In addition to providing the storage pump, Voith will be responsible for the design, fabrication, installation and commissioning of new generating units at the Ritom pumped storage power plant.

The company will replace the existing four Pelton turbines, which have a total rated output of 44MW, with two Pelton 60MW turbines and a 60MW storage pump.

Electricity produced by the plant is used by rail network Swiss Rail, in addition to supplying power to the country’s Ticino region.

“As well as conducting transient pressure (water hammer) calculations, we built a comprehensive simulation model for the entire electrical and mechanical scope of supply and carried out corresponding research beforehand,” added Matten.

“As a result, we can ensure, for example, that our machines meet the exacting requirements of the Swiss transmission grid.”

The total investment for the construction project is estimated to be CHF 250 million (€227.5 million), with operations slated to begin in 2023.
A rendering of the new Ritom pumped storage power plant in Switzerland. Credit: SBB