A number of hydropower projects are currently in the midst of refurbishment throughout Europe. With the race on to meet renewable energy targets, increasing capacity at existing projects is proving to be an attractive alternative to building new systems, particularly in some countries where the potential for new projects is limited. Here, we take a look at new projects being carried out throughout the continent.


alstom Hydro France, Alstom Russia and the Russian United Energy-Construction Corporation (OEK) have signed an agreement with Russian power generator RusHydro to modernise the Kubansky Cascade hydropower plants.

The agreement follows a Strategic Cooperation Agreement signed between Alstom and RusHydro in December 2010. Alstom will carry out the rehabilitation of electro and hydro mechanical equipment as well as install a new instrumentation and control system at the complex. Its partner OEK will be responsible for all civil works. A feasibility study will define the necessary work to be performed.

The rehabilitation project could take between six to ten years to complete. Part of the equipment to modernise the plants could be provided by the joint hydropower manufacturing facility to be built by RusHydro and Alstom in Ufa City, in the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia. The factory will be oriented to production of hydrogenerating equipment for small hydropower plants, as well equipment for Distributed Control Systems (DCS), Condition monitoring systems, Excitation Systems for hydro generators and integrated site security systems. In perspective, the enterprise will be producing also equipment for medium HPP, and pumped storage power plants.

The Kubansky Cascade hydropower plant complex, RusHydro’s subsidiary situated at the Kuban River and extending for 235km, includes eight hydro power plants and one pumped storage power plant, with a total original capacity of over 460MW. The modernization by Alstom could ensure a capacity increase from 10% to 20% (up to 550MW).

Also in Russia, the first batch of large equipment manufactured by Power Machines for RusHydro’s Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower plant began its journey to the damaged facility over the summer.

Heavy blocks for the project’s new hydro-units were loaded on board a sea-river class vessel at a berth at the Sverdlovskaya Embankment in Saint Petersburg in an official ceremony held during the the 5th International Economic Forum.

These three new sets of large-sized equipment will be shipped by sea and river during the 2011 summer navigation season. Each set consists of a hydro-turbine wheel (weighing 145 tons, with a diameter of 6.84m), a generator center plate oil tank (weighing 21 tons, with a diameter of 6.1m) and a 13-ton rotor frame for an auxiliary generator, 6.09m in diameter. Shipment of the first lot of new equipment will take 35-40 days.

The vessel will sail through Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega. From there, it will travel by the Belomorsko-Baltiysky Channel to the White Sea, and then by the Northern Sea Route to the Yenisei Estuary. After that, the vessel will go up the Yenisei River to Krasnoyarsk. At the Krasnoyarsk River Port, the equipment will be re-loaded on a river barge that will run the canal-lift of the Krasnoyarskaya hydropower plant and will ship the cargo to a berth (transfer point) in the lower pool of the Mainskaya project (downstream on the Yenisei, 21.5km from the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower plant). At this point, the equipment will be re-loaded on a special vehicle that will deliver the hydropower unit blocks to a mounting site for Sayano-Shushenskaya.

The total length of the route will be 5900km. For more detailed information about the new equipment shipping procedure, please see the video at YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyafSjXuSQ8.

RusHydro began implementing the second stage of Sayano-Shushenskaya reconstruction earlier this year. The company will install ten new hydro-power units. The four units that returned to operation in 2010 following repair will also be replaced with new units. The first unit (under station number 1) is planned for commissioning in December 2011. From 2012 three units will be commissioned each year, meaning that by 2014 the Sayano-Shushenskaya project will have been completely re-equipped with new and modern equipment designed to meet all reliability and safety requirements.

The reconstruction work is needed following an incident on 17 August 2009, when water flooded the machinery hall; the project’s power and auxiliary equipment were damaged and the frameworks of the machinery hall building collapsed. Seventy-five people were killed in the accident.


Ukraine is set to upgrade six hydropower stations throughout the country following the approval of a EUR 400M loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Bloomberg has reported.

A loan agreement is expected to be signed in September, the country’s Energy and Coal Industry Ministry announced.


Austrian utility Verbund is to invest over EUR50M in the refurbishment of the existing Mayrhofen and Rosshag plants in the Zillertal valley.

The investment, which will help restore 100% availability at the storage plants and improve the degree of efficiency by more than 2%, comes following comprehensive inspections at the projects.

Mayrhofen and Rosshag were originally commissioned in 1969 and 1972 respectively and are part of the Zemm-Ziller power plant group. The refurbishment work is likely to include replacing or repairing the turbines, pumps and generator components, and introducing modern automation technology.

Czech Republic

Czech Republic based renewable energy firm CEZ Group has announced details of an extensive refurbishment programme that would see its hydroelectric projects produce an extra 60,000MWh of power over the next 12 years.

Among the projects to benefit from the programme include the Slapy hydroelectric project in central Bohemia, which will see an increase in efficiency of 5% and production increase of 10,000MWH. Also due for refurbishment is the Lipno project in south Bohemia and the Dlouhé Stráne pumped storage power plant in Jeseníky.

Gradual modernisation of impellers and complete overhauls of most units will gradually be carried out on all the power firm’s hydro project.


Norwegian industrial group Rainpower, together with Alstom Switzerland, has delivered unit 1 to Swiss firm Ofima’s Bavona hydropower project, with the unit having been successfully installed as part of a major refurbishment scheme.

As part of Rainpower’s contract with Ofima, the company delivered a double horizontal Pelton turbine with a capacity of 41MW and a head of 875m. A second turbine will also be delivered for installation in 2011. Alstom was awarded the contract for delivery of new generators.

Bavona power plant was built in 1966 in Locarno in the canton Ticino. The project is currently being refurbished, with the total capacity at the project expected to be increased from 138MW to 165.2MW once both new turbines are placed into operation.


Rainpower Kristinehamn AB has also been commissioned by E.ON to replace the governor system in the Rätan power station in Sweden. The SEK 5M (US$825,000) contract involves the delivery of complete hydraulic governor systems and new electronic regulators. The first unit was completed in early September, with the second expected to be completed on schedule as the magazine goes to press.

Rätan Power Station was built in 1968 on the Ljungan River in the Berg district of Jämtland and has two generators with a capacity of 60MW. Normal annual production is 227GWh and the head is 61m.

“E.ON is one of the world’s largest energy service providers and this is Rainpower’s first contract with the company in Sweden following the formation of Rainpower Kristinehamn AB,” said CEO Casper Vogt-Svendsen. “In conjunction with Rainpower Hymatek’s new technology for electronic regulators, today we can offer complete governor equipment. We view this contract as an important first step on the road to success with our organization in Sweden.”

Rainpower Kristinehamn was set up as a subsidiary of Norwegian firm Rainpower in November 2010. Earlier that year, the parent company entered into a cooperation agreement with engineering firm KTAB to become a fully integrated provider of hydropower technology and services in the Swedish market.


alstom, in consortium with Portuguese engineering company Ensulmeci, has been awarded a contract by Portuguese utillity EDP (Energias de Portugal) to supply and install a new turbine that will more than quadruple power output at the Salamonde Dam.

Under the terms of the contract, worth over EUR 55M in total, Alstom will supply and install the entire unit, consisting of one 207MW Francis reversible pump turbine, a 244 MVA motor-generator, butterfly valve and other hydromechanical equipment, and mechanical and electrical balance of plant.

Salamonde’s existing units, for which Alstom supplied part of the hydromechanical equipment and carried out a retrofit of the generators during the 1980s, was installed in the 1950s and has an output of 2 x 21MW. The commissioning of unit 3 in 2015 will bring total power output of the Salamonde dam up to 250MW.

Also in Portugal, the European Investment Bank (EIB) has approved a EUR 300M loan to Energias de Portugal (EDP) for upgrade work on the Alqueva and Venda Nova pumped storage plants, in a project that will increase output at the Portuguese plants by almost 1GW.

Following on from a loan in the amount of EUR 145M, signed in 2009 (EDP Repowering I), which formed part of EDP’s investment programme in new and existing hydropower plants, this loan will serve to finance the re-powering of the two existing plants. For Alqueva, on the Guadiana River in the southeast of Portugal, the project will more than double installed capacity from 240MW to 496MW. At Venda Nova, which is located on the Cávado River in the north of Portugal, installed capacity will more than treble from 281MW to 1017MW.

The aim of the project is to augment peak hydropower capacity and to supply ancillary services in the market. The plants will generate electricity during peak and medium load hours and store energy during base load hours. It will improve the reliability of the power system and contribute to the coverage of electricity demand and thus to security of supply.

The project is in line with the national strategy on renewable energies decided by the Portuguese government in 2007 and forms part of EDP’s investment programme for the coming decade in new and existing hydropower plants in Portugal.