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Contribution for the roadmap of hydraulic short circuit implementation: Case of Grand-Maison pumped storage power plant

Authors: C Landry, C Nicolet, C Badina, H Pichon and J-L Drommi

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The objectives of the 2050 energy policy based on the decarbonization of the electric power networks generate drastic changes for grid balancing with a massive integration of non-dispatchable Renewable Energy Sources. Hydroelectric power plants already significantly support electricity power system flexibility with innovative solutions such as variable speed units, fast frequency control, fast generating to pumping modes transition, high ramping rate, inertia emulation, etc.

For pumped storage power plants (PSP), a quick solution to increase the flexibility without large investment is to operate the power plant in hydraulic short circuit (HSC) mode. This technological solution is simple to implement, but requires an in-depth study of various technical aspects among which the hydraulic transients of the new operating modes is of high importance from the installation's safety perspective. In the framework of XFLEX HYDRO H2020 European research project, the exploitation of this solution is under implementation at Grand-Maison PSP. Located in the French Alps, Grand-Maison PSP is equipped with 8 reversible multi-stage Francis pump-turbines and 4 Pelton turbines, for a total installed capacity of 1800MW, thus being the largest PSP in Europe and one of the major PSP in the world. The waterway includes a headrace tunnel, a headrace surge tank, 3 parallel penstocks feeding the 12 units operated under a maximum gross head of 955mWC.

In this paper, after a description of the general HSC considerations, the 1D model of the Grand Maison PSP and the related validation are presented. Finally, the most critical load cases in HSC operation are described to identify the potential hydraulic transient issues, such as extreme water levels in the upstream surge tank, maximum static pressure along the pressure shaft and minimum static pressure along the tunnels. The analysis performed for Grand Maison PSP is a contribution to the roadmap for the implementation of HSC operation in pumped storage power plant and will be made available as a public deliverable of the XFLEX HYDRO H2020 European research project.

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