Gösgen hydropower plant in Switzerland has been granted a new concession for 70 years, Alpiq has announced, with the company set to invest CHF 63 million (US$68 million) over the next few years on the plant.

The new concession was signed on 23 September 2020 by the governments of the two cantons of Solothurn and Aargau as well as representatives of Alpiq, and took effect retroactively from 1 January 2020. 

The current concession for Gösgen and the Winznau weir is valid until 2027. Since the Winznau weir requires comprehensive refurbishments, negotiations were carried out to renew the concession early. 

“The promotion and safeguarding of domestic renewable and thus resource-conserving electricity generation by means of hydropower is of key importance,” explained Solothurn’s Director of the Construction and Justice Departments, Roland Fürst, during the signing of the concession. “Thus, we are delighted that thanks to the renewal of the concession and Alpiq’s investments, the Gösgen hydropower plant will continue to generate environmentally friendly electricity for the next 70 years.”

“Hydroelectric power plays a central role in ensuring our security of supply with electricity,” said Stephan Attiger, a government councillor of Aargau. “This requires substantial, long-term investments. The Canton of Aargau thanks Alpiq for its entrepreneurial decision to maintain hydropower,” Stephan Attiger (canton of Aargau) said.

Over the next few years, Alpiq will invest a total of more than CHF 63 million in environmentally friendly hydroelectric electricity generation at the Gösgen hydropower plant. This includes some CHF 12 million (US$13 million) for the implementation of a total of 21 compensation and offsetting measures.

With the implementation of these measures, the environmental footprint of the hydropower utilisation at Gösgen will be significantly improved in line with the Federal Act on the Protection of Nature and Cultural Heritage. Fish migration, for example, will be improved in an ecologically exemplary manner thanks to increased water discharge into the revitalised old Aare, a new fish bypass at the engine house in Niedergösgen and the removal of the Bally weir.

The Gösgen hydropower plant was constructed between 1913 and 1917. Between 1996 and 2000 the engine house was completely restructured. The largest run-of-river power plant on the River Aare has an average annual output of 300 million kWh, which corresponds to the annual consumption of some 75,000 households. The power plant utilises the gradient of the River Aare over a stretch of around 14.5km – from the Aare Bridge near the town of Aarburg to a point 250m upstream of the road bridge near the village of Schönenwerd. 93% of this stretch runs through the canton of Solothurn, 7% through the canton of Aargau. The two cantons share in the revenue from the granting of the concession in the same proportions. 

Acceptance and enactment of the new concession (from the left): Thomas Fürst (Managing Director, Alpiq Hydro Aare), Roland Fürst (Canton of Solothurn, Director of the Construction and Justice Departments), Michael Wider (Member of the Executive Board of the Alpiq Group), Walter Straumann (Chairman of the Board of Directors, Alpiq Hydro Aare), and Stephan Attiger (Councillor of the Canton of Aargau, Head of the Department of Construction, Transport and Environment). Photo: www.troy-fotografie.ch