The sluice valve
Gateway to the power plant – door to the reservoir
Approximately 140 metres from here in the middle of the lake is the intake tunnel, located at a depth of around 40 metres. This gateway to the power plant lets Schluchsee water through, which flows along a six-kilometre-long tunnel to the turbines at Häusern power plant and then onto the power plants at Witznau and Waldshut to generate clean electricity. It ends up in the Rhine to complete the natural hydrological cycle. Water also flows through this gateway into Schluchsee. It is pumped uphill from the High Rhine through the three power plants in the Schluchsee group to be stored in the reservoir. In order to stop the flow of water when required or in the event of an emergency, these buildings house a so-called sluice valve that can completely seal off the discharge outlet. Smaller technical facilities can also be found here for maintaining and monitoring Schluchsee as an upper basin for the pumped-storage plant. The sluice valve is tested once a year to ensure it functions correctly.
Being able to store electricity in large quantities and generate it within seconds when needed is now more important than ever. The sun and the wind have long been playing their part in generating electricity in Germany and are producing an ever increasing share. Yet these generation sources fluctuate depending on the weather and are unreliable. Pumped-storage power plants come into play when too much electricity overloads the grid or a lack of electricity threatens the supply. They work within seconds, produce zero emissions and generate outputs that rank them among the best of all available storage technologies.
How pumped-storage power plants work
Pumped-storage plants consist of an upper and lower basin. Between them are power plants, which pump water uphill if there is excess electricity and allow it to flow down again through turbines to generate electricity when power is needed. They are precisely tailored to meet the needs of the grid at all times. As such, they help to secure the supply – cleanly, effectively and reliably.
With its five pumped-storage power plants, Schluchseewerk AG is one of Europe’s largest suppliers and leading experts. As a partner to its shareholders, it oversees the safe and reliable operation of all its facilities, thereby helping to stabilise the power grid and playing its part in safeguarding the energy supply for today and tomorrow. Schluchseewerk AG – peak power permanently!
Schluchsee Power Plant Group
The three pumped-storage power plants managed by the Schluchsee Power Plant Group – Häusern upstream plant, Witznau intermediate plant and Waldshut downstream plant – store and generate electricity with water that is moved between Schluchsee and the High Rhine. This water, along with the water from the natural tributaries of the eastern Feldberg region, is primarily used to generate eco-friendly reserve electricity for the European power grid.
Facts and figures
- It takes around one hour and 20 minutes for the 18-tonne sluice valve to fully seal the tunnel.
- The electric winch, which moves the valve within the sluice gate, has a 20 horsepower rating.
- The winch cable is around 130 metres long with a diameter of 50 millimetres.