Alstom modernizing Pont Baldy hydropower station in France


Alstom and Energie Développement Services du Briançonnais (EDSB) are celebrating the modernization of the Pont Baldy power station in Briançon (France), which will help EDSB optimize the performance of its hydropower generators. Alstom’s work consisted in replacing the existing automatic voltage regulator with a new, fully digital control system intended to improve availability at the hydropower plant.

Known as SMARTGEN™, the new equipment is a simple and efficient tool that can produce electricity at constant voltage, given that voltage fluctuations can cause power outages. This automatic voltage regulator therefore acts as one of the critical components in any hydropower station, ensuring that it can remain operational and free of any downtime.

Commissioned in 1966, Pont Baldy is located south-east of Briançon, Hautes-Alpes, has an output of 5MW and produces 18 million kWh per annum, supplying the needs of about 3,000 households in Briançon and its surroundings. It was built in order to quickly meet fluctuations in the local demand for power, and can also supply the network even in periods of high demand.

The power and functionality of the device are perfectly suited to the specific requirements of owners of small hydropower stations of Pont Baldy’s size, like EDSB. When paired with maintenance diagnostic software, it can help operators to independently intervene and retain control of equipment maintenance.

It only took Alstom 3 days to replace the existing voltage regulator with the new SMARTGEN™. The plant also features a 5MW horizontal Francis turbine, which was supplied by Alstom in the early days, to which a cutting-edge speed regulator was added in 2006. This represents a first step in the modernization of Pont Baldy, initiated by Alstom together with its customer EDSB.

About 85% of France’s hydro units are of small or medium output (up to 30MW per machine), for which Alstom has developed a whole array of turnkey solutions intended for standardized facilities.

“EDSB has always been one of the most innovative local electric distribution companies,” said Maryse François-Xausa, Alstom’s Vice President Global R&D and Product Management. "Accordingly, SMARTGEN™ is the very latest instance of our ongoing collaboration towards innovation, and of our determination to maximize the energy produced from available hydraulic resources.”

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