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Luigi Einaudi hydroelectric plant, Entracque, Italy

Entracque hydroelectric plant, Italy

Operational

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The plant

Entracque hydroelectric plant

The Entracque power plant, which is named in honor of former President of the Italian Republic Luigi Einaudi, is situated in the municipality of Entracque in the province of Cuneo and is Italy’s largest hydroelectric plant and one of the most powerful in Europe.

The plant includes two dams, which offer breathtaking views of the Maritime Alps: the Chiotas dam, at almost 2,000 meters above sea level, and the Piastra dam at 1,000 meters, with two reservoirs that together can store a total of 42,000,000 cubic meters of water.

The facility is a pumped storage plant where the turbine also works as a pump to move the water from one reservoir to another. The plant acts as a giant battery that stores energy when the water is moved upstream and releases it when it descends, helping to stabilize the electricity grid and enabling non-programmable renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power, to be used more extensively.

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Technology

Hydroelectric

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Status

In operation

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Operational capacity

1,200 MW

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Energy production

500 GWh

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CO2 emissions avoided

200,000 metric tons per year

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Energy needs met

180,000+ households per year

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Timeline

Milestones

Impact on the community

In addition to providing electricity, the plant’s reservoirs can also be used to supply water to farmland downstream. Moreover, in the case of extreme weather events, the dams can protect the local areas, storing the water when it reaches peak levels and then releasing it downstream once the danger has subsided. This occurred in 2020 when Storm Alex struck the area and one of the dams was able to hold back the equivalent of a third of its capacity in a single night.

Downstream from the dams is a cross-country ski trail and the walls of the Piastra Dam are equipped for sport climbing. The plant is also open to visitors, who can book tours that begin with a 3D model of the plant set up inside the Information Center, which also houses an exhibition about the power plant as well as temporary exhibitions linked to the local area. The tour then continues onboard a small electric train that heads underground to give visitors a close-up view of the plant and its machinery.

Construction work

More than 1,300,000 cubic meters of soil and rock were excavated to build the plant, its tunnels, wells and other structures. To harness the power of the water, more than 750,000 cubic meters of cement were used (360,000 for the Chiotas dam alone).

Contacts

Italy

Business development

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