GE technology behind pumped storage hydro project in Portugal

Berlin, April 25, 2012 — With more European countries harnessing their hydropower resources to stabilize their transmission grids and support greater alternative energy production, GE Energy's Power Conversion business will supply its advanced power conversion technology to Voith for the new Frades II pumped-storage hydropower plant.

The facility is being built on the left bank of the Cávado River in the Braga region of northern Portugal.

Frades II is one of six new hydropower plants that Portuguese utility Energias de Portugal (EDP) is building throughout the country. When construction is completed in 2014, the facility will be one of Europe's most powerful pumped storage power plants and will complement the existing Frades I and Vila Nova facilities.

Demand for pumped-storage plants is increasing due to their flexible energy storage and grid-stabilizing capabilities that can help utilities more effectively manage the intermittency of wind energy and other renewable sources.

The variable-speed pumps will allow for better grid regulation, which will become increasingly important as Portugal seeks to dramatically increase renewable energy production.

The country currently generates about 15 percent of its electricity from wind power but is planning to add another 5.4 GW of wind power capacity in the next 10 years. Despite the high power levels, Frades II will still meet all of Portugal's stringent grid-connection requirements.

Germany-based Voith is supplying two reversible pump turbine sets and electromechanical equipment for the project, which represents the next generation of hydropower facilities.

The two-pump turbine sets will feature GE's variable-speed power conversion technology, making Frades II the first pumped storage power plant in Portugal to use this system. At 420 MVA each in generator mode, the sets also will be the most powerful variable-speed systems in Europe.

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