Balancing hydropower and conservation at 942-MW Nant de Drance pumped storage

Nant de Drance pumped storage

Switzerland-based Nant de Drance SA, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Pro Natura have provided the results of an assessment of the environmental compensation measures planned for construction of the 942-MW Nant de Drance pumped storage power plant.

The results of the assessment are positive and are based on 15 projects designed to balance the environmental impacts of the power plant’s construction and its connection to the European electricity grid. Through constructive dialogue, the collaboration between a hydroelectric company and environmental organizations has resulted in improving the balance between energy production and nature conservation, according to a press release.

Since the Nant de Drance pumped storage power plant project first began, Nant de Drance SA, WWF and Pro Natura have been collaborating to minimize the environmental impact.

Nant de Drance SA has implemented 15 environmental measures to offset its ecological impact, investing a total of CHF 22 million (US$24.4 million). Most of the measures aim to recreate specific biotopes locally, especially wetlands, in order to encourage recolonization of the area by certain animal and plant species that are rare or endangered in Switzerland.

The projects include:

  • In Vernayaz, a 580-m stretch of the Lantze Canal has undergone renaturing. The area provides fish fauna with favorable conditions in which to spawn.
  • In the immediate vicinity, temporary ponds were established in the black alder forest of Fond du Mont. The ponds are already occupied by the yellow-bellied toad, a small toad rare in the Valais.
  • In Dorénaz, at the lower end of the Alesse stream, an aquatic environment has been recreated from two bodies of water.
  • In Salvan, meadows and pastures have been reopened to enable people to use them and to stop them becoming wastelands.

The 15 compensation measures are divided among the lowlands and mountains and, in addition to Vernayaz, Dorénaz and Salvan, mentioned above, have been or will soon be completed in the municipalities of Finhaut, Martigny, Saxon and Trient.

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