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France’s biggest hydropower project has been commissioned

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Energy Global,

On 9 October 2020, the new Romanche-Gavet hydroelectric plant, France’s biggest hydropower project, was commissioned after 10 years of construction work. The structure was inaugurated by Jean-Bernard Lévy, EDF Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. The event was attended by Joël Giraud, State Secretary in charge of rural development reporting to the Minister for Regional Cohesion and Relationships with Regional Authorities, as well as by elected representatives and delegates from the local and regional public authorities.

With a capacity of 97 MW, the new Romanche-Gavet hydroelectric plant can increase power output by 40% along the same stretch of river (La Romanche). This structure illustrates the commitment to developing hydropower, the largest source of renewable energy in France and Europe. Its output will equate to the amount of power consumed every year by the cities of Grenoble and Chambéry (230 000 inhabitants), using a decarbonised and renewable energy source.

Comprising a new dam as well as a new underground plant in the depths of the mountain, the hydroelectric plant is replacing six old plants and five old dams. Blending seamlessly into the landscape of the Romanche valley, the structure protects the environment and preserves biodiversity. Nature has been restored along the banks of the dam by replanting species that were gathered within a radius of 25 km in order to prevent the proliferation of invasive plants.

The EDF Group committed €400 million of expenditure to the construction project. 94% of these contracts were awarded to French companies, 28% of which are located in the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region. 75% of the structure was funded by green bonds, thereby supporting the energy transition. During the busiest periods, 306 people were working on the project at the same time. In addition, 74 people were given the opportunity to enter the job market.

This major achievement is a tangible confirmation of EDF’s expertise in the design of innovative and environmentally-friendly hydroelectric facilities supporting the development of renewables. Approximately 30 engineers and technicians from EDF’s hydro-engineering centre (CIH) worked on the project design and engineering phases, followed by project oversight. The Romanche-Gavet facility is operated and maintained by a team of approximately 20 EDF Hydro Alpes technicians and engineers.

Jean-Bernard Lévy, EDF Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer: “The new Romanche-Gavet hydroelectric plant bears testimony to EDF’s ability to develop hydropower, the largest source of renewable energy, whilst at the same time protecting the environment. The new power plant exemplifies how deeply EDF has become embedded across the country whilst also illustrating the Group’s determination to double its renewable installed capacity around the world over the period of 2015 to 2030, bringing net generating capacity to a total of 50 GW.”



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