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Laufenburg, Switzerland

The upstream banked up water of the new power plant led to a rise in the groundwater level. In the historic Schloss Beuggen castle, and at the company premises of Evonik Rheinfelden and Aluminium Rheinfelden, cellar areas therefore had to be secured. In the castle grounds, the cellars which were at risk were protected by a horizontal sealing layer in the masonry, and with an outer and inner sealant with partial backfill. Various different measures were taken to protect the industrial buildings. These ranged from simply raising the floors through to the installation of a system to lower the groundwater level. Smaller sites on the shore of the Rhine, such as fishing huts, fishing sports facilities and boat landing stages were also secured against groundwater penetration.

The machine house stands only two meters above the water level in the headwater, but it is here that the core of the new power plant is housed. Since December 2010, all four machine assemblies have been producing around 600 million kWh/a. This is more than triple the amount produced by the old power plant. The machines now supply renewable energy from hydroelectric power to around 170 000 households. Each machine can be connected either to the German or the Swiss 110 kV grid. The minimum flow machine is connected to the German 20 kV grid. It required great precision to levy the machine parts. Some of the parts are enormous, and weigh up to 130 t. Two gantry cranes provided the flexibility needed during the construction process.

In the concessions for the new power plant, one specification is that the energy generated must be fed in equal measure to the German and Swiss grids. For this reason, energy transmission was provided into Switzerland and Germany. The two grids may not be connected to each other, however. Since all processes are equipped with control and regulation systems, the power plant can be operated fully automatically.

A large number of compensation measures were specified as part of a two-stage environmental impact assessment. Half of the characteristic rapids of the Rhine should remain intact. A near-natural fish ascent and spawning area was also demanded on the German shore, while on the Swiss side, a fish ascent facility was to be constructed. A temporary rough bypass fish ladder basin was integrated as a fixed element in the plant. Numerous ecological measures were required on the shore of the Rhine, and at the Schloss Beuggen castle. The protection of the groundwater played a key role, as a result of which the new construction was positioned somewhat upstream in the Rhine. Overall, Energiedienst AG completed 65 individual measures to ecologically upgrade the area, and the near-natural flowing water is unique in Europe in terms of its scale.

One machine was retained and reconditioned when the old power plant was dismantled. It is now the centrepiece of an exhibition pavilion which explains the history of the old power plant. In order to dismantle the old plant, the canal and turbine chambers had to be fished out and emptied. Here, weapons and munitions from the Second World War were also found, and were removed by the weapons disposal service. A temporary dam made it possible to dismantle the old power plant on dry land. All buildings were gutted and the coarse rack was removed. The porterhouse and an energy dissipation bridge were demolished, and the footbridge over the Rhine and finally the machine house were dismantled. Generators and gear mechanisms were dismantled and the turbine chambers broken up.

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