Burglen hydroelectric plant in Switzerland resumes operations

Axpo has resumed operations of the small hydroelectric plant in Burglen, Switzerland following completion of refurbishment program.

Over the last 14 months, the power plant control centre was replaced and repair work was performed on the canal. Investments for the project amounted to some CHF 13 million.

The Burglen small hydroelectric plant is located at the uppermost stage of the five-kilometre long Thur canal. In the 19th century the power plant site was already utilised for a spinning mill, and the main electro-mechanical equipment was installed in 1948. Refurbishment work began in June 2015: The old power plant control centre was dismantled and replaced, and the powerhouse was fully automated with a vertical Kaplan turbine and a direct drive generator.

Busy beavers

Repair work was also performed on the canal. The banks were raised and various ecological measures were implemented. Constructions included a fish ladder, a resting pool for fish, wildlife exits and beaver lodges. The canal had to be drained twice in the course of refurbishment. During that time, the resident beavers were moved to a wildlife sanctuary in Utzenstorf, Berne, or provided with food and a water pool at the power plant site. At the moment approximately five beavers live in the area of the power plant.

The refurbished Burglen power plant now produces 7.1 GWh hours of electricity per year (previously 5 GWh), which now covers the average electricity consumption of nearly 2000 households. The plant water flow rate was augmented from 16 to 17.5 m3/s, and capacity increased from 725 to 973 kW. The power plant is licensed up until the end of 2095. It is one of eight power plants belonging to Axpo Kleinwasserkraft AG, which is 100 per cent subsidiary of Axpo. The investment volume for the refurbishment amounts to approximately CHF 13 million.