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1719482385000 | Press Release

A blessing before the blasting begins

Tunneling work for the new EnBW pumped storage power plant starts in Forbach
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Tunnelling ceremony for the new pumped storage power plant in Forbach. From left to right: Ingo Kamuf, Technical Project Manager of the EnBW pumped storage power plant Forbach, Ulrich Rost, Head of Hydropower South at EnBW, tunnel sponsor Sylvia M. Felder, President of the Karlsruhe District Council, Michael Class, Head of Generation Portfolio Development at EnBW and Ulrich Gommel, Commercial Project Manager of the EnBW pumped storage power plant Forbach.

Karlsruhe. Construction of the access tunnel to the power plant caverns for EnBW’s new pumped storage power plant officially began today in Forbach (Black Forest) with a blessing and ceremonial handover of a statue of Saint Barbara. In accordance with old traditions, the patron saint of miners will stand watch at the entrance to the tunnel to safeguard the well-being of the construction workers and the good progress of the construction work. The blessing ceremony was followed by the first ceremonial blast of the tunnel to officially start the construction work.

The construction workers will drill tunnels deep into the mountain over the coming months and create two large caverns. One of them will be the heart of the pumped storage power plant and hold the power plant technology including turbines and generators, while the other will become a huge water reservoir. The underground blasting and demolition work will last around 18 months and the new plant is expected to be commissioned in fall 2027.

Michael Class, Head of the Generation Portfolio Development Business Unit at EnBW is delighted to have reached this milestone: “A ten percent increase in renewable generation from hydropower and the transformation of the site into a fully-fledged pumped storage power plant with a pumped output of 57 megawatts: The Rudolf-Fettweis Plant will be able to start generating electricity within seconds when needed in future. It is precisely this type of flexibility that we need as a partner for wind and solar power to ensure the success of the energy transition.”

Dr.-Ing. Thorsten Weiner, Authorized Officer of PORR GmbH & Co. KGaA/BU INFRA International: “We are very pleased that construction work on the tunnel can now officially begin following the ceremonial blast and with the blessing of our patron saint. The tunneling work remains a challenge despite 3D prognosis models, BIM plans and exploration drilling. It is essential to have an experienced team that will be able to master the tasks at hand. Completing the project on schedule and occupational safety are right at the top of our list of priorities.”

Tunnel patron Sylvia M. Felder, President of Karlsruhe District Government: “I have been able to accompany the Forbach pumped storage plant project from the initial idea to today in several roles – as a local politician, member of the state parliament and now president of the district government. It is thus a particular honor and pleasure for me to be made tunnel patron for this outstanding and future-oriented project. May Saint Barbara ensure that everyone returns to the surface in good health after a shift of strenuous and dangerous work.”

Prof. Dr. Christian Dusch, District Administrator of the Rastatt district: “I would like to thank EnBW for their engagement in the area of renewable energies. Our wind and solar energy projects are especially dependent on the pumped storage power plant here in Forbach. It will ensure that the lights never go out in people’s homes whenever the sun and wind leave us stranded for a while.”

Robert Stiebler, Mayor of the City of Forbach: “I believe that hydropower is being treated as a poor relation during the energy transition and is not being promoted enough. So I am all the more delighted that EnBW has not forgotten its roots and the cradle of green electricity in Forbach and is implementing this once-in-a-lifetime project here.”

Martin Eggstein (Ministerialdirigent), Head of the Department for Energy/Water and Soil at the Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and Energy Sector for the State of Baden-Württemberg: “Storage systems and especially pumped storage power plants will play a key role in the success of the energy transition. Therefore, I am extremely pleased that a new, modern pumped storage power plant will be placed into operation in Forbach in just a few years. The underground construction of the power plant allows us to satisfy both the requirements of the energy transition and also environmental protection and conservation requirements. I would like to thank everyone who has made this project possible.”

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Flexible generation for another 100 years

The Rudolf-Fettweis Plant in Forbach (Black Forest) was built from 1914–1918 and 1922–1926 and has been reliably supplying electricity to the local region ever since. It comprises four individual power plants, which together have a total output of around 68 megawatts. EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG is now investing around 280 million euros to transform the existing storage and run-of-river power plant into a highly efficient pumped storage power plant.

This conversion and new construction project involves two of the four power plants at the power plant complex: the Schwarzenbach plant and the Murg plant. They currently have a total output of 65 megawatts but this will increase to 77 megawatts following completion of the project. A special feature is the new pump turbine, which will also offer an additional 57 megawatts of pumped capacity in future. It will enable the company to adapt power plant operations to any changes in demand quickly and flexibly – providing stability and increasing the reliability of the electricity supply. The new power plant technology will be completely contained in a cavern within the mountain.

A water reservoir with a capacity of 200,000 cubic meters is being created in a second cavern. In combination with the already existing equalizing reservoirs in Forbach, the pumped storage plant will have access to 400,000 cubic meters of stored water in future.

Approval for the operation of the new power plant has been issued until 1 January 2090 – so that the plant can continue to provide clean electricity from the Black Forest for another century.

s dem Schwarzwald.

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Pumped storage: Making the energy transition possible

Storage systems and controllable output that can be readily deployed on demand will play a key role in the success of the energy transition. In particular, this applies to pumped storage plants: They are currently the only large-scale, readily available electricity storage systems that have proved themselves over many years. As they can generate electricity flexibly to meet current demand, they are ideal for supplementing other renewable energies. They are able to compensate for variations in the feed-ins of wind and solar power due to the weather and time of day and make an important contribution to the stability of the electricity grid – and to the security of supply for German households and companies.

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About Energie Baden-Württemberg AG (EnBW)
With a workforce of over 28,000 employees, EnBW is one of the largest energy supply companies in Germany and Europe. It supplies electricity, gas and water together with infrastructure and energy-related products and services to around 5.5 million customers. In the company’s transformation from a traditional energy provider to a sustainable infrastructure group, the expansion of renewable energy sources and of the distribution and transportation grids for electricity and gas are cornerstones of EnBW’s growth strategy and the focus of its investment spending. By 2030, EnBW plans gross investments of €40 billion, around 90% of which will be in Germany. EnBW aims for renewables to account for over half of its generation portfolio by as early as the end of 2025 and to phase out coal by the end of 2028. These are key milestones on the way to the company being carbon-neutral by 2035. www.enbw.com/company

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