🏗️ The 12 Highest Dams in French-Speaking Switzerland in 2020

Dams


Switzerland, queen of dams


Switzerland has a large number of dams mainly located in the Alps and especially in the canton of Valais. The king of dams is the one of Grande-Dixence because of its height (285 m) and the phenomenal quantity of concrete it contains. It remained for a long time the highest in the world before being surpassed by 3 other dams. In 2018, a Chinese dam, the Jinping I dam with its 305 m is the highest in the world. The dam producing the most electricity is the Trois-Gorges dam, as indicated above.

The Grande Dixence dam, the highest dam in Switzerland.
Barrage de la grande Dixence

The use of concrete


The use of concrete allowed dams to rise at the end of the 19th century with, in 1872, the first concrete dam in Europe at Pérolles in the canton of Fribourg. The Hover Dam, along the Colorado River in the United States, was built in the 1930s during the Great Depression and is the first major dam ever built with a height of 220 m. It is remarkably built in only 4 years under much more difficult technological and human conditions than those we could have today. It is currently still in operation and at the same time a tourist attraction with 1 million visitors per year.

The Hover Dam. Photo Flickr Graham McLellan
The Hover Dam - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

Video of the exterior and interior of the Hoover Dam.

How to be sure of the solidity of a dam?


Nowadays, the failure of a dam in Switzerland is a near-zero possibility due to the monitoring and verification technologies in place, and the dam could even be emptied as soon as worrying signals appear, as was the case for the Tseuzier dam in 1978, which was damaged by underground drilling.

In the past, a few disasters have left their mark on people’s minds. A disaster in the United States at the end of the 19th century. Two in Western Europe in the early 1960s and one in China in 1975.

  • Johnston USA 1889
  • Malpasset France 1959
  • Vajont Italy 1963
  • Banqiao China 1975

In the United States in 1889, very heavy rains caused the South Fork Dam in Transylvanie on the east coast to overflow and then completely destroy it. This earth and rockfill dam was 22 metres high and had a volume of 18 millions m³. This disaster, known as the “Johnstown Flood”, took the lives of 2200 people.

In Europe, the first disaster (1959 – 423 deaths) was the rupture of the Malpasset dam in France, releasing 50 million m³ of water due to high floods and multiple design failures such as a lack of anchoring in the rock. The second (1963 – 1900 deaths), at the Vajont dam in Italy near Venice, is not due to the failure of the dam but to a huge landslide in the dam’s reservoir that caused 25 million m³ of water to overflow. Fortunately, the dam remains intact after the disaster but is later disused. The danger in the event of an overflow of a reservoir is the erosion of the dam’s foundations by the force of the water, which can quickly cause the dam to rupture.

The remains of the Malpasset dam. Photos Flickr Philpp Clifford.
The Malpasset dam - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

The 261 m high Vajont dam, the highest in Italy. Photo: BestKevin.
The Vajont dam in Italy - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

The rupture of a dam that cost the most lives occurred in 1975 in China with the bursting of the Banqiao dam causing the death of about 25’000 people directly and certainly more than 100’000 as a result of the epidemics and famines that followed and affected more than 10 million people. This disaster was long hidden by the Chinese government.

In the Valais, the threat could come from an earthquake that would cause a dam to break. Estimates have shown that the total rupture of the Grande Dixence would cause a wave 37 metres high in Sion, 2.5 metres in Martigny and another 2 metres in Villeneuve 6 hours later.

When should you visit a swiss dam?


Valais dams should be visited in summer or early autumn as most of them are inaccessible in winter due to the absence of snow removal from the access road or the risk of avalanches. This is particularly the case for the three highest dams in the Valais, the Grande-Dixence, Mauvoisin and Tseuzier dams.

The month of September is on average the month in which the reservoirs are filled to the maximum while the opposite is the month of April in which the reservoir can be filled to only 10% of its capacity. Still in spring, access is not necessarily ideal because of the ever-present snow and the almost empty water reservoir.

Plains dams such as Rossens or Schieffenen have a much less variable filling volume and are of course accessible all year round. Dams mainly produce electricity in winter and early spring while they fill up with water the rest of the year.

The Tseuzier dam almost empty at the beginning of April.
The Tseuzier or Zeuzier dam - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

The Mauvoisin dam full in mid-September.
The Mauvoisin dam - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

Pressure applied by water


In a hydroelectric complex, the pressure generated by the water must be accurately assessed. Here we will calculate the pressure at the bottom of a dam and explain how operates the water hammer.

What is the pressure at the bottom of Lac des Dix, the Grande-Dixence dam?

The simplified formula is as follows: p=rho gh which is the pressure applied to a point on the dam. rho (pronounced rho) is the density, 1000 kg/m³ for water. g is gravity, 9.81 m/s² and h is the height of the water above the selected pressure point. Let us take a water height of 227 m if the dam is completely filled and we therefore have a pressure of 1000 x 9.81 x 227 = 2’268’700 kg/s²*m. This unit is equal to the Pascal or N/m².

In summary, the force acting on the dam increases with the water level, which explains why the thickness of a dam is greater at its base than at its top. This is particularly striking on a gravity dam such as the Grande Dixence dam, where the thickness varies from 200 m (!) at the base to about 15 metres at the top. It should be noted that the force applied to the dam does not depend on the quantity of water in the reservoir.

The water hammer

Water hammer is a phenomenon of pressure build-up that occurs as a result of a sudden stop in the speed of a liquid when a valve is suddenly closed. In the case of a dam, this phenomenon can cause the failure of the penstock or infrastructure of the downstream power plant. To overcome this problem, an surge chamber is created, which is a vertical well connected to the pipe and which aims to absorb the excess pressure generated by the water hammer. The surge chamber is generally positioned between the inlet gallery that starts from the dam on a gentle slope and the penstock that goes to the power plant on a steep slope.

Is a concrete dam eternal?


No structure is eternal. In this case, there is not enough distance to give a life time since the first major concrete dams were built in the late 1950s. Although they are remarkably resistant, a concrete swelling problem called the “alkali-aggregate reaction” unknown at the construction time affects dams to varying degrees.

To simply explain this reaction, we can say that concrete is a mixture of sand, small stones, cement and water in very precise proportions that hardens some time after this mixture. In the agglomerate thus formed, small spaces are made up of water and air with a high pH which will interact with the silica constituting the sand and the small stones of the concrete by increasing the pressure causing a swelling and then a crack in the structure. This causes an alteration of the mechanical properties of the concrete.

The Salanfe dam in the Valais was particularly affected by this problem, so that work had to be carried out in 2013. These are only used to delay the spread of irreversible swelling in concrete that has been cut vertically over 1 cm wide with a saw. The incisions are gradually closing.

Work on the Salanfe dam to fight against the swelling of the concrete. Photo: Flickr Alpiq.
The Salanfe dam - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

White marks left by the work.
The Salanfe dam - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

The Sixth Street Viaduct in Los Angeles, built in 1932, was demolished in 2016 due to particularly severe alkali-aggregate reactions that weakened its structure in a sensitive seismic region.

A structure of the 6th Avenue viaduct degraded by the phenomenon of the alkali-aggregate reaction. Image Flikr
6th Avenue viaduct in Los Angeles damaged by concrete cancer - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

Some particularities of dams in Switzerland and around the world


In Europe and the US

The Vajont dam (261 m) is the highest in Italy, the Tigne dam (160 m), the highest in France and the Lac Oroville dam (231 m) is the highest in the United States. The latter is facing a serious problem in February 2017. Following heavy rains, weirs are used to avoid overflowing, causing erosion damage. The dam is not threatened, but the water may cause one of the damaged weirs to rupture, causing a wave of nearly 10 m. The situation returned to normal a few days later.

In Switzerland

The last dam built in Switzerland is the Linthal dam. It was built in 2014 in the canton of Glarus and is the longest in Switzerland with a crown of one kilometre long and the highest in altitude in Switzerland but also in Europe at 2500 m. It is part of the Linthal pumped storage power station, which raises the water from Lake Limmern 630 m below.

In the world

The Three Gorges Dam has the most powerful hydroelectric infrastructure in the world but is not the largest dam in the world, in this case the Tarbella Dam in Pakistan. The latter is mainly composed of earth and rockfill, unlike Trois-Gorges concrete. The Kariba dam on the Zambezi River in Africa has the largest volume of water with 180 billion m³, 4x more than the Three Gorges.

Three Gorges dam. Photo: Wikimedia.org.
The Three Gorges Dam in China - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

Kariba dam. Photo: Wikimedia.org.
The Kariba Dam - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

Tarbella dam. Photo: Wikimedia.org.
The Tarbella Dam - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

The Atlantropa project


The Atlantropa project is one of the most colossal construction projects ever imagined. It is a gigantic dam 35 kilometres long designed by the German engineer Herman Sörgel in 1928 at the level of the Strait of Gibraltar separating the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The dam would have reduced water supply in the Mediterranean and thus created a difference in level allowing underground plants to produce huge amounts of electricity. The water level was expected to decrease by almost one metre per year to 100 metres for the sea part between Sicily and Gibraltar and 200 metres between Sicily and the eastern part. The 2 parts of the sea being separated by a dam between Sicily and Africa. Another dam was to be built at the Dardanelles to separate the Black Sea from the Mediterranean Sea. According to Sörgel, new land has emerged from the water, making it possible to have additional cultivable and habitable areas. For example, the Adriatic Sea would have almost disappeared.

Unfortunately, the project is not ecologically acceptable, which was not part of the considerations at the beginning of the 20th century. For example, the drop in the level of the Mediterranean Sea would have discovered new lands but they would have been difficult to cultivate because of the salinity of the soil. The salt concentration of the water is reported to have increased, causing disturbances to aquatic fauna and flora. Other problems would have arisen, such as access to coastal cities that would no longer have a port. More generally, the drop in water level would have had repercussions on the climate around the Mediterranean.

A travelling exhibition presented the Atlantropa project to the population in the 1930s, mainly in Germany. Sörgel was invited to the universal exhibitions in Barcelona in 1929 and New York in 1939. He even continued to promote it after the Second World War and died hit by a car on his way to one of his own meetings.

The dam at the level of the Strait of Gibraltar. Its length is 35 km, much longer than the 14.4 km width of the strait, to get around certain great depths as much as possible.
The Atlantropa project - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

Un reportage vidéo sur le projet Atlantropa

Types of dams


The types of dams in Switzerland are as follows:

  • Arch Dams
  • Gravity Dams
  • Buttress Dams
  • Embankment Dams

Arch dams


Examples: Mauvoisin, Emosson, Tseuzier, Hongrin, Moiry, Toules, Rossens, Schiffenen and Montsalvens dams. Highest in Switzerland: Mauvoisin, 250 m.

This type of elegant dam allows part of the water pressure to rest on the rock faces. It is less concrete consuming and requires a relatively small distance between the walls.

The first arch-type dam in Europe is built in the middle of the 19th century by the father of the famous writer Emile Zola in the south of France. It is made of masonry.

Some dams such as the Hongrin dam have a double vault, the 2 vaults are separated by a rocky anchor. This dam is visible from the Rochers de Naye at the level of the Jardin Alpin La Rambertia.

Montsalvens dam.
The Montsalvens dam in Switzerland seen by air

Moiry dam.
The Moiry dam in Switzerland seen by air - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

The magnificent double vault of the Hongrin dam. It is one of the only structures of its kind in the world.
The Hongrin dam with its double arch - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

Gravity dams


Example: Grande-Dixence and Salanfe dams. Highest in Switzerland, Grande-Dixence, 285 m.

The dam alone supports the weight of the dam, which is triangular in shape in cross-section perpendicular to the crown of the dam. It requires a large quantity of concrete.

Aerial view of the Salanfe dam.
The Salanfe dam as seen from the air - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

Buttress dams


Little used in Switzerland, dam allowing large widths while saving concrete because the buttresses of the dam are arch-shaped. The two dams of this type in Switzerland are:

  • Lucendro in Canton Ticino at 73 m high.
  • Cleuson in Valais at 87 m high.

The Cleuson dam has the particularity of being of the buttress type despite its appearance which reminds us of the gravity type. This is because the spaces between the buttresses are filled with concrete to increase its strength in 1950, not to fight against water pressure, but to improve its resistance in the event of bombardment. The end of construction took place a few years after the end of the Second World War and images of the destruction of some dams during the war, particularly in Germany, are still very much in evidence at that time.

The Cruachan dam in Scotland.. Photo Flickr “Tom Parnell”.
 Cruachan Dam - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

The Lucendro dam with the arches on the upstream side. Photo Wikimedia.org.
Lucendro Dam in Ticino - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland

The Cleuson dam.
Cleuson Dam - Hydroelectricity in French-speaking Switzerland
The Möhne dam near Dortmund was bombed by the Royal Air Force in 1943 during Operation Chastise. The picture was taken from an English plane. New bombs called “bouncing bombs” must be invented to destroy the dams and pass over the anti-torpedo protection nets. Source Wikimedia Commons.
The Möhne dam near Dortmund was bombed by the Royal Air Force in 1943 during Operation Chastise. The picture was taken from an English plane. New bombs called "bouncing bombs" must be invented to destroy the dams and pass over the anti-torpedo protection nets.

Embankment Dams


Example: Mattmark. Highest in Switzerland, Göscheneralp, 155 m.

Barrage constitué d’enrochement ou de terre avec un noyau étanche en béton ou argile. Beaucoup plus large et limité en hauteur que les barrages en béton.

Le barrage de Mattmark. Photo Flickr “J Donohoe”.
Le barrage de Mattmark.

Dams geolocation


dams geolocation western switzerland

Comparative table of dams


Among all the dams in French-speaking Switzerland, the 12 highest were visited by La Torpille. In the table, the Three Gorges Dam in China is added for comparison purposes, it is the facility that produces the most energy in the world, all energies combined. To see the entire contents of the table drag the mouse on the right.

See the geographical position of the visited dams.

BarragesGrande-Dixence petit drapeau du canton du valaisMauvoisin petit drapeau du canton du valaisEmosson petit drapeau du canton du valaisTseuzier petit drapeau du canton du valaisMoiry petit drapeau du canton du valaisHongrin petit drapeau du canton de vaudCleuson petit drapeau du canton du valais
Toules petit drapeau du canton du valaisRossens petit drapeau du canton de fribourgMontsalvens petit drapeau du canton de fribourgSalanfe petit drapeau du canton du valaisSchiffenen petit drapeau du canton de fribourgTrois-Gorges (Chine)
Link to attractionLinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Dams picturesgrand dixence dammauvoisin dam barrage d'emosson - hydroélectricité en suisse romandebarrage de Tseuzier - hydroélectricité en suisse romandebarrage de Moiry - hydroélectricité en suisse romandebarrage de l'Hongrin - hydroélectricité en suisse romandebarrage de Cleuson - hydroélectricité en suisse romandebarrage des Toules - hydroélectricité en suisse romandebarrage de Rossens - hydroélectricité en suisse romandebarrage de Montsalvens - hydroélectricité en suisse romandebarrage de Salanfe - hydroélectricité en suisse romande barrage de Schiffenen - hydroélectricité en suisse romandebarrage des trois gorges - hydroélectricité en suisse romande
Construction [year]1953-19611951-19581967-19731953-19571954-19581966-19711947-19501955-19641944-19481919-19201947-19531961-19641994-2012
PositionPositionPositionPositionPositionPositionPositionPositionPositionPositionPositionPositionPosition
Type
WeightArchArchArchArchArchButtressesArchArchArchWeightArchWeight
Commissioning date [year]1961195819751957195819711951196419481920195019642006-2009
Height
Swiss rank
World rank
285
1st
4th
250
2nd
10th
180
5th
73th
156
6th
135th
148
10th
-
123 (North) 95 (South)
17th
-
87

8683
33e
-
55
50e
-
5247
56e
-
185
N/A
66e
Length [m]748520555256610325 (Nord)
272 (Sud)
4204603201156164172335
Base thickness [m]19553.245263422?8020.528224014115
Crown thickness [m]15128773?3.5 à 54.553?5740
Crown altitude [m]236419711931177722501255218718116708021925534229
Crowning open to carsNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNoYesNo
Flood evacuator [m3/s]?10760366210014535543012.21000
Reservoir volume [Mm3]400211227507752202022012.64058.645'300
Reservoir area [km2]4.042.083.270.851.31.60.50.609.60.741.854.251544
Reservoir length [km]5551.32.42.71.41.513.51.71.812.5600
Concrete volume [1000*m3]6'0002'0001'100300814228 (North)
116 (South)
4052352502623018527'000
Max distortion [cm]1179762.47.53.2
Galleries in dam [km]32
Total water catchment area [km2]420 (46 direct whatershed)167 (198 with watershed after dam)175 (34 direct whatershed) 18.7MOTTEC
29 Moiry dam
36 Tourtemagne dam
VISSOIE
87: Navisence in Mottec
19: Torrent du Moulin
NAVISENZE
66: Navisence à Vissoie
TOTAL: 244
90
45 East and West adductions
45 Hongrin et Petit-Hongrin
23 (16 direct whatershed and 7 Tortin water collector)78 (110 Orsière central)95417331
(Salanfe 18, Saufla: 13)
14001'000'000
Collectors [km]100About 13 (7.5 + 5.5)4720.825?0040
Lake nameLac des DixMauvoisin lakeEmosson lakeTseuzier lakeMoiry lakeHongrin lakeCleuson lakeToules lakeGruyère lakeMontsalvens lakeSalanfe lakeSchiffenen lakeTrois-Gorges lake
Distance/Time around the LakeNot possible because of east side
12km / 7h?
4.7km / 1h10m7.5km / 2h2022.5km / 5h304km / 1h1512.5km / 4h3050km/14h3510km / 2h45m7km / 1h45m
RiverDixenceDranse de BagnesBarberineLienneGougraHongrinPrintseDranse d'EntremontSarineJogneSalanfeSarineYangtze
Remaining river downstreamYesYesYesYesYes
Company nameGrande Dixence SA ou
Cleuson Dixence
Forces Motrices
de Mauvoisin SA
Electricité Emosson SA / CFFElectricité de la Lienne SAForces Motrices de la Gougra SAForces Motrices Hongrin-Léman SAEnergie de l'Ouest Suisse (EOS)Forces Motrices du Grand-St-BernardGroupe EGroupe ESalanfe SAGroupe EChina Yangtze Power
Can be visitedYes 15 francs On reservation
Free of charge
On reservation
300 francs
On reservation
9 francs
NoOn reservationOn reservation
Free of charge?
On reservation
Free of charge
On reservation
Free of charge
On reservation
Free of charge
Central 1 [MW]CHANDOLINE - 150
Outdoor
FIONNAY - 138
Underground
LA BATIAZ
Outdoor - 160
CHAMARIN - 0.9
Outdoor
MOTTEC - 69
Outdoor
VEYTAUX I - 240
Indoor
PALLAZUIT - 36
Outdoor
PIED DE BARRAGE 2 - 1.7
Outdoor
ELECTROBROC - 25
Outdoor
MIEVILLE - 70 OutdoorPIED DE BARRAGE 1 - 70
Outdoor
RIVE GAUCHE - 9800
Outdoor
Pictureusine de chandoline - hydroélectricité en suisse romandeUsine de hydroélectrique de FionnayUsine de hydroélectrique de La BatiazUsine de hydroélectrique de MottecUsine de hydroélectrique de Veytaux IUsine de hydroélectrique de PallazuitUsine de hydroélectrique de Miéville
Turbinex? Pelton3 Francis2 vertical Pelton with 5 injectors of 80MW1 Pelton6 Pelton ( 3 alternators)4 Pelton (2 alternators)1 Pelton ?1 Francis 1.7 MW5x Francis2 vertical Pelton 35MW2x Kaplan14x Francis 700MW
Flow rate [m3/s]Stopped in 20133x 11.529m3/s0.453x 44x 8102267.2135
Pipe length [km]Supply tunnel: 4.7
Shielded penstock: 0.6 ?
Supply tunnel: 9.8 + 0.27
Shielded penstock: 0.92
environ 3.5Supply tunnel: 3.4
Shielded penstock: 1
Supply tunnel: 7.98
Shielded penstock: 1.22
Supply tunnel: 5.5
Shielded penstock: 0.6
02.140
Drop height [m]180040062638868588348067100 variable1472 variable4590
Water intakeDamDamBassin de compensation de ChâtelardDamMoiry and Tourtemagne damsDamDamDamDamDamDamDam
Altitude493149245213891564376133061068745248460
FlowRhôneFionnay I tailpondRhôneBisse d'AyentMottec tailpondLake of GenevaTailpondSarineSarineRhôneSarineYangtze
Year of commissioning1934 (Dixence)
1958 (Grande Dixence)
1974195919711958200519501964
Central 2 [MW]FIONNAY - 290
Underground
RIDDES/ECONE - 225
Outdoor
VALLORCINE - 242
Outdoor
CROIX - 66
Outdoor
VISSOIE - 45
Outdoor
VEYTAUX II - 240
Indoor
ORSIERE- 24HAUTERIVE - 70
Outdoor
PIED DE BARRAGE - 0.18
Outdoor
PIED DE BARRAGE 2 - 2.5 OutdoorRIVE DROITE - 8400
Outdoor
PictureUsine de hydroélectrique de FionnayUsine de hydroélectrique de Riddes/EconeUsine de hydroélectrique de VallorcineUsine de hydroélectrique de VissoieUsine de hydroélectrique de Veytaux IIUsine de hydroélectrique d'orsière
Pipe length [km]9Supply tunnel: 15
Shielded penstock: 2.45
Supply tunnel: 1 + 0.5
Shielded penstock: 1.1
[Shielded penstock: 0.5/1.89]
Supply tunnel: 3.2
Shielded penstock: 1.4
Supply tunnel: 6.9
Shielded penstock: 0.9
Supply tunnel: 7.98
Shielded penstock: 1.22
Supply tunnel: 5.6
Shielded penstock: 0.7
600
Turbine12 horizontal Pelton (6 alternators)10 Pelton (5 alternators) ?3 vertical Pelton with 5 injectors de 64MW
[1 Francis 50MW]
2 horizontal Pelton of 33MW6 Pelton (3 alternators)2 Pelton4 vertical Pelton with 2 injectors ?4x Francis1x Diagonal1x Francis12x Francis 700MW
Flow rate [m3/s]4510x 2.829
[22/15]
93x 42x 168750.55
Drop height [m]8001000 750
[382/860]
85534288338775 à 110454890
Water intakeDamFionnayDam
[Les Esserts/Belle-Place]
DamMottec tailpond and Navisence riverBarragePalazuit tailpondDamDamDamDam
Altitude14864781130922122237691757275548460
FlowFionnay II (166'000 m3) tailpondRhôneChâtelard-Frontière
90'000m3 tailpond
Croix tailpondVissoie tailpondLac LémanDranse d'EntremontSarineJogneSarineYangtze
Year of commissioning1958197319582017?1948 (1902)20131964
Central 3 [MW]NENDAZ - 430
Underground
CHANRION - 28
Underground
CFF CHATELARD I et II - 110MW - UndergroundSAINT-LEONARD - 34
Outdoor
NAVIZENCE - 70
Outdoor
SEMBRANCHERPIED DE BARRAGE 1 - 0.6 OutdoorCENTRALE 3 - 4300
Outdoor
Prise d'eau Fionnay II tailpondBreney (before dam) tailpondDamCroix tailpondVissoie tailpond and Navisence riverDamDam
PictureUsine de hydroélectrique de NendazUsine de hydroélectrique CFF du châtelardUsine de hydroélectrique de Navizence
Turbine12 horizontal Pelton (6 alternators)1 pelton with 2 injectors?3 horizontal Pelton with 1 injector 11MW (I)
2 horizontal Pelton with 2 injecteurs 40MW (II)
2 Francis 17 MW6 Pelton (3 alternators)1 Francis6x Francis 700W
2x Francis 50W
Flow rate [m3/s]452x 51610.53x 41
Pipe length [km]16Supply tunnel: 4.1
Shielded penstock: 0.9
Supply tunnel: 8.5
Shielded penstock: 1.1
0
Drop height [m]10003508044206956790
Altitude4791966112349852761060
FlowRhôneMauvoisin damChâtelard tailpondRhôneRhôneSarineYangtze
Year of commissioning19581925 (I) /1972 (II)1908 (2014)1976
Central 4 [MW]BIEUDRON/RIDDES - 1200
Underground
CHAMPSEC - 5
Outdoor
CFF VERNAYAZ - 107 OutdoorMARTIGNY-BOURG
PictureUsine de hydroélectrique du BieudronUsine de hydroélectrique de ChampsecUsine de hydroélectrique CFF de Vernayaz
Turbine3x vertical Pelton turbine with 5 injecteurs2 Pelton turbines3 Pelton with 2 injectors
27/40/40 MW
Flow rate [m3/s]751.217
Pipe length [m]Supply tunnel: 15.8
Shielded penstock: 4.3
Drop height [m]1900550645
Water intakeDamLes Creux tailpondChâtelard tailpond
Altitude481903452
FlowRhôneDranse de BagnesRhône
Year of commissioning19981928
Pumping stationZmutt - 470m-86MW-17m3/sVallorcine power plant
2x 9m3/s, 800m, 120 GWh/an
vers barrage Emosson
Mottec: pump: 23MWVeytaux I
4 pumps, 32 m3/s
4 pumps of 1MW and 0.5 m3/s Clusanfe
2m3/s, 0.88MW
Stafel - 212m-26MW-9m3/sChâtelard II power plant
31 MW, 4 m3/s, 800m
to Emosson dam
Veytaux II
32 m3/s
Gietroz du Fond
0.6m3/s, 1MW
Ferpecle - 212m (via Arolla) -21MW-8m3/s
Arolla - 312m-48MW-12m3/s
Cleuson dam - 165m
Pumped storage [MW]In construction 2018
Nant de Drance 900
6 Francis 150 MW
2500Gwh ?
Total Production [GWh/year]2800 (2015)7001100
(800 ESA + 300 CFF)
240650Environ 1000230
(Palazuit 100 + 130 Orsière)
2807012013598'000
Total power [MW]2700 (2015)400637
(410 ESA + 217 CFF)
100165480
60
(36 + 24)
70307072.522'500
Accumulated energy [GWh]660100
Drama/problem [year]19991818 (before dam construction)1978
DetailsPipe BreakGietroz galcierMajor cracks in the dam"Cancer" du béton
RecordsHighest weight dam in the world
World's most powerful pelton turbine
Highest waterfall
Highest arch dam in EuropeOldest horizontal and vertical arch dam in EuropeMost powerful dam in the world

Questions


What is the highest dam in Switzerland?

The highest dam in Switzerland is the Grande Dixence dam with a height of 280 metres.

What is the highest arch dam in Switzerland?

The Mauvoisin dam is the highest arch dam in Switzerland and Europe.

In which canton are the highest dams in French-speaking Switzerland?

The Valais has the highest dams in French-speaking Switzerland.

What is the only large dam in the canton of Vaud?

The Hongrin dam is the only large dam in French-speaking Switzerland in the canton of Vaud. It has the particularity of having a double arch.

Which of the 12 largest dams in French-speaking Switzerland are of the weight type?

The Salanfe and Grande Dixence dams are the only major dams of the weight type.

What is the only dam of the buttress type in French-speaking Switzerland?

The Cleuson dam is the only dam of the buttress type in French-speaking Switzerland.

What is the largest dam reservoir in French-speaking Switzerland?

The reservoir of the Grande Dixence dam, Lac des Dix, can hold 400 million m³ of water.

Which is the dam reservoir with the largest surface area?

Lake Gruyère is the reservoir of the Rossens dam. It is the largest reservoir in French-speaking Switzerland with an area of almost 10 km².

What is the only dam in French-speaking Switzerland that does not have its own turbine installation?

The Cleuson dam does not have its own turbines. Its water is pumped into the Grande Dixence dam.