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Run-of-river hydropower plant tests hydro-battery-hybrid

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The Vogelgrun hydropower plant on the Rhine River is testing how a battery energy storage system (BESS) can increase the flexibility of the plant and reduce wear and tear effects.

Vogelgrun is a 142 MW run-of-river hydropower plant that has four low head Kaplan turbines. One of the turbines has been hybridised with the BESS as part of a European Union (EU)-funded energy innovation initiative called XFLEX HYDRO. It is one of two EDF hydropower plants taking part in the initiative.

XFLEX HYDRO is demonstrating how smart hydropower technologies can deliver a low-carbon, reliable and resilient power system. It involves six different demonstrations across France, Portugal, and Switzerland, and there are 19 organisations participating.

EDP is leading on the demonstration’s coordination. Serge Autuori, Deputy Director of EDF Hydro East France, EDF, says: “EDF is an energy leader, and we are fully committed to decarbonisation and the energy transition.”

Andritz Hydro, a global supplier of electromechanical systems and services for hydropower plants, is working on computational flow analysis of the turbine, as well as adaptation of the master control for the hybrid.

Stefan Lais, Head of Department, Turbine Engineering & Technology at Andritz, says: “A key innovation for this set-up is the smart hybrid controller, being developed with CEA INES and EDF on Andritz’ HIPASE digital platform. The hybrid controller will be essential to optimise operations across the turbine and the battery unit, and to capture the full capabilities of the combined system.”

The Vogelgrun XFLEX HYDRO project team has been testing the operation of the hybrid since May 2021, and the official demonstration phase started in late 2021.

“Early results have shown a faster time response of the hybrid unit compared to the stand-alone hydro unit, therefore meeting one of the key goals of the project. Studies are now ongoing to assess the reduced wear and tear effects on the turbine,” says Mr Lais.

The EDF Vogelgrun hydropower plant in France is taking part in the EU-funded XFLEX HYDRO initiative. Credit: EDF and XFLEX HYDRO project / EU Horizon 2020 grant No 857832 / Photographer: Mathias Magg.

The demonstration’s main objectives are to:

  • Hybridise the turbine unit with a BESS to improve the plant’s capability to provide primary frequency response to the electricity grid.
  • Significantly reduce turbine wear and tear on the turbine.

“It has been a real challenge to put everything together in less than 24 months,” says Yasmine Sarrail, Project Manager at EDF Hydro Engineering. “Now the hybrid unit is fully functional, and the monitoring programme has been implemented and will be checked monthly.”

Other project partners involved in the Vogelgrun demonstration, and their roles, are as follows:

  • Power Vision Engineering (PVE), responsible for the computer modelling and simulation of the hydro mechanical turbine and electrical system;
  • EPFL, responsible for smart digital controls, the Smart Power Plant Supervisor, and advanced control algorithms for the project, and for performing the reduced-scale model test;
  • ARMINES (together with MINES ParisTech), responsible for implementing advanced control and forecasting tools, and coordinated control of the BESS and hydropower plant;
  • CEA INES, responsible for the analysis and specification of the BESS; and
  • UPC, responsible for conducting the field tests and the implementation of the monitoring system.

A new video about the Vogelgrun demonstration has recently been released.

XFLEX HYDRO is a four-year project running until 2023 and has been funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

For more information about the project and to sign-up for progress updates, visit