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The tour will depart from Strasbourg after breakfast, for a short journey to visit EDF’s Kembs run-of-river hydro plant on the Rhine river. After the renewal of the concession for the powerplant, EDF replaced the powerplant with a new state-of-the-art facility, which has some exceptional features for environmental enhancement, in particular fish protection. The ecological flow maintained in the river is up to 150 m3/s in summer, and in addition, two fish passes for the upstream and downstream passage of fish are integrated within the civil works. The powerplant has a capacity of 8.4 MW, from two horizontal axis turbines, producing around 28 GWh/year. Discharge from the plant feeds 7 m3 to a newly created river, the ‘Petit Rhine/Little Rhine’, which flows to wetlands, enhancing biodiversity.
In the afternoon, there will be a tour of Thann, a picturesque commune on the river Thur, at the foot of the Vosges mountains. Its church, known as the Collégiale, is a good example of the style of gothic architecture that flourished in the Rhine valley in the late Middle Ages.
In the late afternoon, the group will arrive in Guebwiller, for dinner and an overnight stay.
After breakfast on 30 October, the tour will set off for the second technical visit, which will be to EDF’s remote control and e-monitoring centre, near Kembs. From here, EDF’s 10 major run-of-river schemes on the Rhine are controlled; also the water levels of the Grand Canal d’Alsace and the Rhine are regulated. The control centre was fully automated in 1976.
After the visit, the group will travel back to Strasbourg with a stop at Entzheim airport, for those wishing to leave the tour there. An optional extra night’s stay in Strasbourg can be arranged, but is not included in the study tour.
The group will depart from Strasbourg after breakfast to begin the journey to the Alpine region.
The first stop, after a drive of slightly more than one hour, will be in the stunning village of Colmar, known as the Alsatian wine capital. There will an opportunity to walk around the ‘Little Venice’ area, and to experience its historical and cultural heritage. A visit is also planned to the Unterlinden Museum, located in a former Dominican convent. Famous European art masterpieces from the Middle Ages can be seen, including the Isenheim Altarpiece.
After lunch in Colmar, the journey will continue to Bride les Bains, for dinner and an overnight stay.
On 29 October, the first technical visit will be to the new extension (inaugurated in 2019) at La Coche pumped-storage plant in Moûtiers. The plant was originally commissioned in 1976, and the extension involved the addition of a new 480 MW Pelton unit, the most powerful in France. The upper reservoir is La Coche basin, and the lower reservoir is impounded by Aigueblanche dam. There is an underground powerhouse.
After lunch the group will continue to Grenoble, and check into a hotel in town. During the afternoon, participants will have the opportunity to travel by cable car over the rooftops of the city, to view the surrounding mountains, including Mont Blanc. There will be a visit to the Bastille Fort, followed by dinner at the historical and gastronomic restaurant Le Pèr Gras, located at the fort.
The second technical visit will be on 30 October, to the site of the Romanche Gavet project, under construction near Moûtiers. This project has involved replacing five dams and five powerplants with one new underground plant equipped with two 46 MW Francis units, which will operate with a gross head of 270 m. The new plant will be 40 per cent more efficient, and will offer environmental benefits. A 10 km-long headrace gallery runs through the massif of Belledone, from the reservoir at the Livet dam to the Gavet underground powerhouse.
After the briefing and site tour, the group will drive back to Strasbourg for a final dinner and overnight stay.
The tour will depart from Strasbourg after breakfast and head for the picturesque town of Colmar, for a tour and lunch (see details of Colmar in Tour B).
The journey will continue in the afternoon to Lyon, for dinner and an overnight stay in the centre of this
The next day will begin with a visit to the Génissiat hydro plant, operated by Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR). It was the first plant to be developed by CNR on the Rhône, and has notable architectural features. It has an installed capacity of 420 MW. The dam is 104 m-high, and the plant has six 66 MW vertical Francis units.
In the afternoon, en route back to Lyon, there will be a stop in the fortified town of Pérouges, considered to be among the most attractive villages in France. Dinner will be at a ‘Bouchon Lyonnais’, a traditional local tavern serving regional specialities.
The final technical visit will take place on 30 October, to CNR’s Bollène hybrid development, which combines a historical hydro plant with impressive architectural features, an associated lock, a wind farm and two solar plants. The major hydro plant scheme was built as part of France’s recovery from the second world war.
After a briefing and tour of the various features, the group will drive back to Strasbourg with a stop at Lyon airport, for those wishing to fly home from there.