EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG has announced its investment in hydropower and pump storage in Forbach, marking a significant step towards the energy transition and security of supply. 

EnBW has made the decision to convert and expand the Rudolf-Fettweis-Werk (RFW) in Forbach, located in the Northern Black Forest, into a pumped storage power plant. With an estimated total cost of approximately €280 million, the project is set to commence construction in autumn 2023 and aims to be completed by the end of 2027.

Georg Stamatelopoulos, Chief Operating Officer Sustainable Generation Infrastructure at EnBW, emphasized the company's commitment to expanding renewable energies and achieving climate neutrality by 2035. He stated, "The new pumped-storage power plant in Forbach offers exactly this possibility and makes the new plant the ideal and necessary addition to the expansion of electricity generation from renewable energies."

The approval process for the complex construction project involved a thorough examination of every detail by the regional council in Karlsruhe. After more than five years of intensive work by numerous experts and specialist authorities, the planning approval notice was issued on March 1, 2023. District President Sylvia M. Felder expressed her satisfaction with the decision, stating: "Pumped storage power plants are essential for energy storage, especially in the case of renewable energies."

The Mayor of Forbach, Robert Stiebler, expressed his delight that the project was being implemented in their community. Forbach has a long history of hydropower, and the continuation of this tradition is seen as a positive signal for both the community and EnBW amidst the ongoing energy transition.

The new pumped storage power plant in Forbach will feature a power plant cavern within the mountain to house the necessary technology. It will include a pump turbine with approximately 54MW of power in turbine operation and 57MW of pump power. Additionally, the plant will incorporate the new power plant technology of the Murgwerk, which comprises three Francis turbines with a total capacity of around 23MW.

To facilitate the construction of the pumped storage power plant, the existing Forbach equalization reservoir will be expanded to include a cavern water reservoir inside a neighboring mountain. This will serve as the lower reservoir for the future pumped storage power plant, collecting water from the upper reservoir, the Schwarzenbachtalsperre, which will drive the turbines to generate electricity.

The existing Rudolf Fettweis plant in Forbach, which dates back to 1914-1926, currently has a total output of approximately 71 megawatts. It consists of four individual power plants, including the Schwarzenbach dam with a storage volume of 14 million cubic meters of water, the machine house, and the dams in Forbach and Kirschbaumwasen. 

The Rudolf-Fettweis-Werk in Forbach has been generating electricity from hydropower for around 100 years. The new pumped storage power plant makes it the ideal and necessary addition to the expansion of electricity generation from renewable energies. (Source: EnBW / Ingo Kamuf)