Demonstration projects in France, Portugal and Switzerland are being set up by teams working for XFLEX HYDRO – a project set up to show how more flexible hydro assets can help countries and regions to meet their renewable energy targets.

The project will test enhanced fixed-and variable speed turbine systems, hydraulic short circuit, and hybridisation with an electro-chemical battery. These will be demonstrated at a variety of power plants which cover pumped storage, storage and run-of-river, using smart controls being developed for the project. 

The plants being used are:

  • Portugual: Frades 2 (variable speed), Alqueva (hydraulic short-circuit), Alto Lindoso and Caniçada (both enhanced fixed speed).
  • France: Grand Maison (hydraulic short circuit) and Vogelgrün (battery-turbine hybrid).
  • Switzerland: Z’Mutt (variable speed)

Upon its conclusion in 2023, the project aims to deliver a roadmap to increase adoption of similar technologies across the hydropower fleet, with policy and market recommendations for governments, regulators and industry.

The initiative has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. It aims to help the EU meet a target of achieving 32% of energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Project partners on the initiative are: Project partners are: Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL); Alpiq ; Andritz AT; Andritz CH; ARMINES ; CEA (Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives); EDF; EDP CNET; EDP Gestão da Produção da Energia, S.A; GE Renewable Energy; HES SO; The International Hydropower Association (IHA); INESC TEC; Power Vision Engineering; SuperGrid Institute; UPC; USTUTT; Voith Hydro; and ZABALA.

EDF’s Vogelgrun power plant. Photo credit: EDF and XFLEX HYDRO project/EU Horizon 2020/Photographer Mathias Magg.