Green hydropower is particularly environmentally-friendly when it is used in a smart way. Vienna has been a pioneer in this field for around a century.
Since the 1910s, the natural power of water has been used to generate electricity from Vienna’s spring water. Spring water originating from the areas of Rax, Schneeberg, Schneealpe and Hochschwab is used for this, which covers around 95 percent of Vienna’s water requirements.
16 drinking water power stations are driven by spring water
A total of 16 hydropower stations generate around 65 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity from Vienna’s spring water. Enough electricity is therefore obtained from Vienna’s water to supply the whole of St. Pölten. Twelve of these power stations are operated by the municipal department for Vienna Water Works (MA 31) in the source areas and in the City of Vienna itself. Wien Energie manages two further power stations at the foot of a 90-meter gradient level on the II. Mountain Spring Pipeline in Gaming in Lower Austria. Hochquellstrom Vertriebsges.m.b.H – a subsidiary of Siemens AG – operates a power station in Mauer.
Electricity directly from the source
Eleven of the aqueduct power plants are located directly in the source areas of the I. and II. Mountain Spring Pipelines. MA 31 operates a total of seven power plants in Wildalpen. Their energy provides power for the entire town and water supply installations. Any excess power is used in the Mariazell District. Four more drinking water power stations are in operation in the Hirschwang (Lower Austria) source area.
Two hydropower stations in the middle of Vienna
After the Mauer drinking water power plant at the end of the II. Vienna Mountain Spring Pipeline was connected to the grid back in 2006, the second power plant in the Vienna metropolitan area was commissioned on the Wienerberg ridge at the beginning of 2014. It was built in the valve chamber of the new Wienerberg reservoir and can generate around 250,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year. Instead of a turbine, it uses a centrifugal pump, resulting in significant cost savings. As turbines for power plants are usually custom-made, there is considerable benefit to be gained from reduced production costs. In this case, a standard centrifugal pump is used to operate the power plant.
Drinking water supply takes precedence
A prerequisite for the construction of drinking water power plants is that the quality of the source water is unaffected. This is guaranteed by their technical construction and by the use of special “drinking water compatible” materials and equipment. In addition, the continuity of the water supply always takes precedence over the production of electricity when operating the power plants. Vienna’s hydropower stations therefore have a so-called bypass. This redirects the entire volume of water to the turbines in case of a power plant shutdown, thereby safeguarding the water supply to Vienna’s millions of residents at any time.
Expansion of drinking water power stations
By expanding the drinking water power stations in Vienna and the area surrounding Vienna’s two Mountain Spring Pipelines, MA31 is also helping generate electricity from renewable energy sources.
As a result of the findings of the feasibility study, “Expansion of hydropower utilisation in Vienna’s drinking water network”, there are plans to build a drinking water power station in the valve chamber of the Schafberg reservoir in 2015. This is expected to produce an annual output of approximately 387,000 kilowatt hours in 2016.
There are plans for further drinking water power stations in Vienna’s water supply installations.
Vienna water works (MA 31) – Astrid Rompolt
Website: Vienna water power plants
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