Hydropower is currently the world’s most important source of electricity from renewable sources. It is capable of withstanding base loads and – unlike wind power and photovoltaics – is not strongly subject to weather influences. EnBW has long been committed to this form of climate-friendly energy generation and has an above-average share of hydropower in its energy mix nationwide.
The use of domestic hydropower has a long tradition at EnBW. In many of our plants, the turbines have been rotating for more than a hundred years. With around 900 MW of installed capacity from run-of-river power plants and around 1,900 MW of installed capacity from pumped storage and storage power plants, more than ten percent of our electricity generation comes from the power of water.
EnBW currently operates and maintains a total of 67 run-of-river and pumped storage power plants – particularly on the Rhine, the Iller, and the Neckar, as well as smaller rivers throughout Baden-Württemberg. There are also numerous shareholdings and contracts for electricity purchases outside the domestic market of Baden-Württemberg. These account for a significant share of our hydropower portfolio.
Today, there are hardly any locations for new large hydroelectric power plants in Germany. Therefore, in order to increase production, we are replacing, expanding, and modernising our existing facilities. In Rheinfelden, a new power plant with four times the capacity replaced the old plant in 2011. The Iffezheim (Rhine) power plant became the largest run-of-river power plant in Germany with the addition of a fifth turbine.
Our growth strategy in the renewables segment also includes seizing opportunities in other markets. In Switzerland, we are already one of the leading operators of hydropower plants through investment models. In particular, we see great potential for successfully implementing our strategy in Turkey. Together with our Turkish partner Borusan, we are pursuing the goal of establishing 2,000 MW of installed capacity from wind and hydropower.
The construction of hydropower plants is accompanied by compensatory or replacement measures. In this way, we are actively contributing to the renaturation of river courses. Our facilities are usually equipped with a fish pass. This enables the fish to migrate upstream to their spawning grounds and also to search for food above the power station.
Our power plants also play an important role in water level control for shipping and flood protection, in the renaturation of river courses, and in waste disposal: Their rakes not only collect floating debris such as pieces of driftwood and leaves, but also thousands of tonnes of rubbish, which we then dispose of.
In addition to modernising our power plants, a major focus of our activities in the coming years will be on improving consistency. This not only enhances the ecological value of our facilities but also improves the living conditions for fish and micro-organisms in regulated rivers.
EnBW has been installing a fifth machine in the existing facility at the Iffezheim (Rhine) power plant since 2009. Since 2013, it has been producing CO₂-free electricity for an additional 75,000 people annually. With a total installed capacity of 148 MW, Iffezheim will then be the largest run-of-river power plant in Germany and one of the largest in Europe.
The Rudolf-Fettweis Plant in Forbach has great potential to increase storage capacity in Germany. We have therefore developed a concept to expand the existing facility into a modern, high-performance pumped storage power plant. Even though we are still in the initial stages of project development, it is important for us to provide you with comprehensive information about our expansion plans early on.
Because of its many advantages, hydropower is currently the world’s most important source of green electricity. It does not consume any primary energy sources such as coal, oil, or gas, and therefore does not release any carbon dioxide. Water is also a particularly reliable and controllable source of energy and has a high degree of efficiency, which surpasses other renewable energies.
EnBW’s balanced energy mix – consisting mainly of coal, nuclear power, natural gas, and renewable energies – is the basis for EnBW safely and reliably supplying its customers with energy. EnBW has a long tradition of involvement in hydropower and will continue to play an important role in its generation strategy in the future.
The capacities of hydropower in Baden-Württemberg are, however, almost exhausted, and new locations can hardly be developed. EnBW therefore aims to maintain the existing hydropower plants with their generation potential at an optimum and to further expand them as far as possible – not only in Baden-Württemberg but also in Turkey and selected European countries.
The construction of hydropower plants is accompanied by compensatory or replacement measures. In this way, we are actively contributing to the renaturation of the river courses: We ensure the restoration and preservation of native fauna and flora or create new habitats for plants and animals. Our facilities are usually equipped with a fish pass. This enables the fish to migrate upstream to their spawning grounds and also to search for food above the power station.