This morning, the new La Coche power plant (Savoie) was inaugurated by Jean-Bernard Lévy, the EDF Group’s Chairman and Chief Executive. The event was attended by members of local government and by representatives of the local and regional authorities. The new plant will increase the total capacity of the La Coche pumped-storage hydro facility by 20%. Amounting to 150 million Euros in capital expenditure, this investment confirms the Group’s commitment to the development of hydro power, which is the world’s main source of renewable energy whilst accounting for 12.4% of France’s electrical output1.

The commissioning of this new facility, combined with upgrades being made to the existing pumped-storage plant, is also helping to further develop electrical power storage technologies, an area which is being strongly supported by the EDF Group via its Storage Plan.

The second biggest hydro project in France after the one currently underway at Romanche-Gavet (Isère), this new facility features France’s most powerful Pelton wheel (240 MW). It comes in addition to La Coche’s underground power plant, which is already in operation. Commissioned in 1976, this pumped-storage plant pumps water from the Aigueblanche dam towards the La Coche impoundment, where it stores energy that is constantly available to meet demand spikes. It therefore plays a strategic role in balancing the power grid, more specifically supporting the integration of variable renewable-energy sources.
With this new plant, La Coche’s hydro facilities will now generate as much power as that annually used by 270 000 inhabitants (tantamount to the size of a city like Strasbourg) thanks to a renewable, flexible and storable energy source.
Of the 150 million Euros spent on this asset, 84 million Euros have gone towards supporting regional businesses including nearly 30 million Euros for Savoie. 500 local jobs have been created or maintained in the region thanks to project-related investments whilst 11 jobs have been created to support labour-market integration.
Innovation has been an outstanding feature of the project. EDF-designed robots have been used for work being performed in inaccessible areas so as to keep workers safe and to protect the environment. Furthermore, the Pelton wheel is a product of additive manufacturing, which entails adding material by means of laser metal deposition.
Jean-Bernard Lévy, Chairman and Chief Executive of the EDF Group: "This new power plant bears testimony to EDF’s long-term presence across all of our regions, as well as its commitment to the development of renewable energy sources in line with our CAP 2030 strategy, which seeks to double the Group’s global installed renewable capacity by 2030. This facility also forms part of the Group’s Electrical Storage Plan, which aims to develop 10 GW of additional storage capacity world-wide by 2035”.
France’s most powerful Pelton wheel
Measuring 3.6 metres in diameter and weighing 15 tons, the Pelton wheel is the generation facility’s key component. It is rotated by water that is jetted at a rate of nearly 500 km/h by five surrounding injectors, causing it to drive the main generator. The main generator’s impressively sized components are housed inside an 80-cm thick reinforced-concrete enclosure. Featuring a special liner, the wheel is more resistant to abrasion from sediment-loaded water. It is also easier to maintain and replace than “reversible” pumped-storage Francis turbines used by the underground plant.

(1)The customers were counted at the end of 2018 per delivery site; a customer can have two delivery points: one for electricity and another for gas

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