As part of the European XFLEX HYDRO project, our teams have been working on the system controlling Zmutt’s reversible pump-turbine. The idea is to improve the flexibility of hydroelectric schemes in an effort to relieve pressure on the European grid.
Launched in 2019 to coincide with COP25 in Madrid, the European XFLEX Hydro project aims to evaluate innovative solutions for improving the flexibility and adaptability of hydroelectric power plants.
At the heart of the project is the resilience of the European electricity grid, which is having to integrate more and more intermittent renewable energies likely to disrupt its smooth operation.
Alongside the HES-SO Valais-Wallis
Six hydraulic schemes have been selected for full-scale tests, a first in Europe. The Zmutt reversible variable-speed pump-turbine, owned by Grande Dixence, is one of those studied.
HYDRO Exploitation was fully involved in the development, coordination and commissioning of this unique plant.
A custom pump-turbine controller meeting the production requirements and those of the European project was developed by our teams in collaboration with Power Vision Engineering and the HES-SO Valais-Wallis (the University of Applied Sciences and Arts – Western Switzerland). Among other things, a number of start-up profiles were trialled in order e.g. to identify those that put the least strain on the wheel or cause the least fatigue to the penstock.
Long-term viability, quality, functionality
The main challenge was to ensure the availability and long-term viability of the solution in order to ensure the quality and functionality of operation, while maintaining the agility required by the R&D project, both from a technical point of view and in terms of organising on-site tests. HYDRO rose to the challenge.