A rendering of the new Ritom pumped storage power plant in Switzerland (Source: SBB).
A rendering of the new Ritom pumped storage power plant in Switzerland (Source: SBB).

Voith is to supply two Pelton 60 MW turbines and a 60 MW storage pump for the Ritom pumped storage power plant in Switzerland.

The plant, which has been in operation since 1920, is being replaced by a new CHF250 million facility. The client and plant operator is Ritom SA, a joint venture between Swiss Rail (SBB) and the canton of Ticino.

The Ritom pumped storage power plant’s four Pelton turbines, with a total rated output of 44 MW, will be replaced by much more powerful generating units in the new facility. Voith will be responsible for the design, fabrication, installation and commissioning of the two Pelton 60 MW turbines and the 60 MW storage pump.

The first machine unit will supply power for the 16.7 Hz Swiss Rail network and the operation of its trains. The second will feed the electricity it generates into the 50 Hz public grid. The third unit, a 60 MW capacity storage pump with a delivery head of more than 700 m, will pump the water for reservoir management and to provide balancing power (operating reserve) from the Airolo basin to Lake Ritom. In combination with the turbine, the pump can provide the operating reserve for fast grid regulation and stabilization with maximum flexibility. This means that the new power plant will provide a feed-in reserve/intake balance of 60 MW for the 50 Hz Swiss grid. “In addition, the storage pump can be speeded up with the help of the 50 Hz Pelton turbines using back-to-back starting and synchronized with the grid. In this situation the power of the turbine is used to start the pump in the water,” explains Christian Matten, Project Manager at Voith Hydro Europe.

The new plant is scheduled to go into operation in mid-2023.