Voith completes upgrades at Switzerland’s 11-MW Ruchlig small hydropower plant

The rehabilitation and upgrade of Switzerland’s 11-MW Ruchlig hydropower plant will benefit both its operator and the environment, global technology manufacturer Voith said.

The modernization project took about three-and-a-half years to complete and included Voith overhauls of electromechanical equipment in Ruchlig’s three existing Kaplan bulb turbines. The company also supplied gear units, generators, governors, a cooling water system and one new, structurally identical power unit.

The contract was awarded to Voith by Switzerland state-owned power group Axpo, which won the plant’s operating concession in 2011.

“As a result of the upgrades we have increased the capacity of the existing bulb turbines by more than 35%, primarily due to the significantly higher water flow through the turbines,” Axpo project manager Rolf Geissberger said. “The total output of the plant could therefore be increase by about 10%.”

The project also saw the removal of three vertical generating units which were removed to install a pair of additional flood relief gates.

“Despite a tight schedule and restricted working times due to noise emission constraints, we were able to connect the last machine to the grid one month earlier than planned,” Voith project manager Markus Gottken said.

Ruchlig’s new turbines also meet more stringent environmental standards, with turbines designed to be more fish-friendly.

“The Ruchlig hydropower plant is a great example of how economic and ecological interests can be reconciled,” Gottken said.

The run-of-river project is located on the Aare River and has been operating since the 1920s.

The modernization effort allowed Axpo to extend its production license until the end of 2074.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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