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Hydropower to boost energy storage capacity in Austria

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Hydropower to boost energy storage capacity in Austria

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The growing diversification of energy sources, especially renewable energy, also poses new challenges for power plants. Capacity must be increased, supply must be balanced. The Obervermuntwerk II project is designed to do just that by reducing network losses, adding balancing capacity to the network and providing additional regulating energy.

“We are pleased to have found a competent and reliable financing partner for our projects in the European Investment Bank”, said Dr Christof Germann, Board member of the Federal State-owned energy supply company Illwerke AG, which received a EUR 280m loan in support of a pumped storage power plant.

“Obervermuntwerk II will play a key role in generating environmentally friendly power – and not only for the Federal State of Vorarlberg. It will also make an important contribution to ensuring the stability and reliability of the whole European power grid”, added EIB Vice-President Wilhelm Molterer.

Mountaintop renewable energy battery

Works at the 360-MW capacity Obervermuntwerk II started this summer and are due to be finalised by 2018. A special cable railway is being installed to make sure the building site – located at an altitude of around 1 700 metres – remains accessible even when the roads are snowed under.

This project harnesses the natural power of water and the Austrian mountains: the 300-metre difference in elevation between the upper Silvretta and lower Vermunt water reservoirs – roughly the height of the Eiffel tower – is used to balance-out uneven energy supply and demand. This enables Obervermuntwerk II to rapidly deliver peak and regulating energy to the public power grid whenever necessary. In case surplus energy in the network endangers the security of supply, water will be pumped back up to the Silvretta reservoir.



Secure, efficient and flexible power supply

This will make it possible to react quickly to demand peaks and imbalances, which arise not only in consumption but also in power generation from renewables, such as wind and solar, as well as to provide additional network services for the European grid. It therefore acts like a rechargeable battery, powered by renewable energy, providing as much electricity as is needed at a given time.

“Europe is dependent on a secure, efficient and flexible power supply. And the EIB sees this as one of the core goals of its financing”, said Vice-President Molterer, who is responsible among other things for the Bank’s financing operations in Austria.





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