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GREAT NEWS: Excavation work for the new ÖBB Obervellach II power plant has been completed!

GREAT NEWS: Excavation work for the new ÖBB Obervellach II power plant has been completed!
photo: Hadlauer / ÖBB/GREAT NEWS: Excavation work for the new ÖBB Obervellach II power plant has been completed!
21 / 07 / 2022

A crucial milestone in the construction of the new ÖBB power plant Obervellach II has been reached these days: the driving work has been completed with the full excavation of the storage gallery. Underground blasting and dredging have been in progress since December 2020. In total, approximately 100 miners have excavated a gallery length of around five kilometres.

ÖBB project manager Christian Höss is delighted with this important milestone: "Underground construction is always a special challenge. It was also demonstrated by the demanding geological conditions in Obervellach. With the completion of all tunnelling work, the shell has been largely completed and further work will focus on the concrete structure and the technical equipment. The parallel work on the three water intakes Mallnitz-, Dösen- and Kaponigbach and on the penstock is also on the schedule. In addition, assembly work has already begun on the two sets of traction current machines in the new powerhouse."

Tunnel godmother Sara Schaar is delighted: "My warmest congratulations to everyone involved! To complete such a project in the target time is a great achievement. However, it is very important to me that there were no serious accidents and that the men and women on site remained healthy and safe during this difficult work. A hearty 'Glück auf'!"

ÖBB / Pellizzari

The storage tunnel - mega construction for green power generation

What has just been excavated is a true monument in the mountain: the storage tunnel is about 13m high, 15m wide, and 580m long and is used to store water for the on-demand generation of green traction power. With a capacity of 60,000m³ - equivalent to the volume of around 20 Olympic swimming pools - power peaks in the traction current network can be covered even better. When less energy is needed for train operation, the water from the three water catchments is stored in the tunnel. If demand increases, the stored water is available for power production.

Full power ahead in the powerhouse, too

Looking down into the valley, the new powerhouse catches the eye. Now that the structural work has been completed, the machine sets are already being assembled inside. In the future, the two traction current generators will be driven by two Pelton turbines with a water flow of 4.5 m³/s each. The regulating capacity of the entire Obervellach II power plant is approx. 125-gigawatt hours per year. It corresponds to approx. 30,000 Railjet journeys from Villach to Vienna. The new power plant will thus increase the sustainable production of traction power at the Obervellach site by more than 35%.

ÖBB / Pellizzari

What else will follow until completion?

By 2024, the construction of the Obervellach II power plant will create a completely new, independent power plant facility. However, there is still some work to be done before the new plant goes into operation. Since last May, the installation of the penstock has been underway. With a diameter of 1.8 meters and a head of 488 meters, it will transport the water into the valley. Unlike in the past, the pipeline will be laid underground, thus making a significant contribution to the beautification of the village.

At the end of this year, the open-air switchgear and the equalizing basin will also be completed. It will have the same capacity as the storage gallery and ensure an even inflow into the Möll. When all construction sections have been completed, the new power plant can be ramped up in spring 2024 - initially in trial operation, which will then gradually be transferred to the regular one.

ÖBB / Hadlauer

Traction power at ÖBB

ÖBB is one of the largest climate protection companies in Austria. Today, ÖBB saves more than 3.5 million tons of CO2 yearly through its rail transport services. Electricity from renewable energies plays a central role in this. For more than 100 years, ÖBB has been a pioneer in electric mobility, and since 2018, ÖBB has been using traction current from 100% renewable energy. ÖBB produces around one-third of its own traction current from hydropower. By 2030, this share is to increase to over 40% through the renewal of existing power plants and other renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Already today, over 95% of rail transport services are provided electrically. It also makes ÖBB an absolute pioneer in an EU comparison.


Source: ÖBB Press Releases