Voith Hydro signs pair of pumped-storage deals

Equipment manufacturer Voith Hydro Holding has received orders to modernize pumped-storage plants in China and Austria, HydroWorld.com has learned.

The combined value of the orders is about US$110.67 million and will be used for work at the Hongping pumped-storage plant in southeast China and the Kops I facility in the Austrian Alps.

The Hongping order comes from the State Grid Corporation of China and includes four pumped-storage units -- each of which will have an output of 300 MW. Voith says the initial development phase will be completed in 2015 and bring the plants generating capacity to 1,200 MW, though future development will increase Hongping's capacity to 2,400 MW.

China is already home to 24 pumped storage plants with a total installed capacity of approximately 18,700 MW. The country's goal is to generate 11.4% of its energy with renewable sources by 2015, increasing to 20% by 2020.

"Pumped-storage plants are the only proven, economically attractive technology for storing electricity from other renewable sources, such as wind and solar - particularly when the proportion of these sources in the energy is becoming more and more significant," says Roland Munch, President and Chief Executive Officer of Voith Hydro.

HydroWorld.com reported in July that China had announced a new 3.6 GW pumped-storage plant in Hebei Province.

Meanwhile, Voith's Austrian contract is with Vorarlberger Illwerke AG and includes the supply of three new double Pelton turbines and controller components. The modernization will increase the plant's output by 12%, giving Kops I a total capacity of 276 MW. Coincidentally, Voith also outfitted the pumped-storage plant when it was constructed 50 years ago.

The work reflects an initiative to increase pumped storage in Europe. HydroWorld.com reported on a joint initiative signed by Germany, Austria and Switzerland in May.

"Solar power systems and wind turbines can only be extended on a larce scale by using pumped-storage plants," Munch says. "We are assuming that the share of pumped-storage plants on the entire hydropower market will increase significantly in the years ahead from around 3% to 7%."

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