Alpiq, HYDRO Exploitation, Forces Motrices Valaisannes (FMV) and the School of Engineering of the HES-SO Valais-Wallis are teaming up to develop industrial expertise in the field of power production from hydropower with the creation of a new research laboratory.

The partners have signed a five-year contract for the creation and development of the Hydro Alps Lab, with a budget of CHF 2 million allocated to the project. The lab Is expected to employ 10 people in the long term. 

The main objective of the laboratory is to develop sustainable, modern energy production from hydropower. The concept will be based on innovative R&D work and development of joint competences in the hydropower field. The results of this work will be incorporated into the training to ensure that it meets the needs of the industry. 

Students at the lab will deal with the practical problems of the industry partners and capitalise on the results of the lab’s research projects – with the practical relevance of this project expected to enhance their employability. 

In the first phase, the focus will be on projects in the field of monitoring and improvement of alpine high head power plants and run-of-river hydropower plants. The collaboration will focus on the following topics:  Condition monitoring and analysis of the wear of various power plant components with regard to the planning of maintenance work; Numerical simulation for operating mode optimisation of the hydraulic machines; Digitalisation and integration of machine learning tools to improve power plant performance.

The lab will be managed by a UAS lecturer with support by Lab Leaders at the various partner locations, whose task will be to facilitate exchange of ideas and information between the lab employees and the industrial partners with regard to implementation of the projects. A management committee composed of decision-makers from each partner will be responsible for defining the strategy, selecting projects and ensuring proper execution.