Hydro 2020

Hydro 2020: Focus on hydroelectricity and dams


Covid compels: the usual international HYDRO conference will be virtual this year. This won't prevent BG Consulting Engineers from taking part and showcasing its expertise in the field!

Representing one-fifth of the world's electricity production, hydroelectric power is currently one of the only means of large-scale energy storage thanks to the use of accumulation and pumped-storage facilities, and therefore represents a major asset for the regulation of electricity grids. Multidisciplinary in this field, the BG group brings together the best experts in the technical, environmental and social fields for each stage of a project: infrastructure sizing and planning, seismic analysis, dam failure studies, detailed quantitative risk analyses and emergency planning.

BG Consulting Engineers' credentials in this field are numerous: for hydroelectric schemes such as Rhône Oberwald, Nant de Drance or Cleuson-Dixence, small hydroelectric schemes such as Delise, Seyon Avail, Lomié in Cameroon, dams such as the Arnon dam, the Verbois or Chéliff dam in Algeria, or strategic studies involving 1D, 2D, 3D modelling, risk analyses, structural modelling, etc.

At the Hydro 2020 conference starting today, Alexandre Allain, Hydro & Dams project manager, Martin Wickenhäuser, Hydro & Dams group leader and Michele Janutolo-Barlet, Civil Engineering project manager at BG Consulting Engineers, will present a case study of the Sarenne hydroelectric power plant project in the French Alps. This was a very interesting project, since the particularly constrained context (mountainous, high altitude, near a village, with the presence of asbestos) had to be taken into account when deciding on an underground waterway. The waterway linking the water inlet to the hydropower plant will consist of a tunnel approximately 2400 m long dug by a small-diameter tunnel boring machine with the lower reinforced section and the upper unsupported section (loaded gallery), a trench pipe approximately 400 m long, an inclined shaft approximately 350 m long and an already existing 500 m long gallery. The power plant will be equipped with two similar horizontal Pelton turbines with two injectors. With a relatively low nominal flow rate of 1.8 m3/s, the installed capacity is approximately 11 MW, producing about 36 GWh per year.

Mr Janutolo Barlet explains: "This project is emblematic for the group because it is the first large-scale underground hydroelectric scheme in France to be redesigned and built in the absence of an existing hydroelectric scheme. We were honoured and fortunate to be able to work with CNR on this exciting project, due to its technical challenges (presence of asbestos-bearing rocks, environmental and budgetary constraints, mobilisation of experts in several fields, etc.) and its geographical location (below the important ski resort of Alpe d'Huez and near its legendary climb in the world of cycling)."

Find out more