Using the riches of the environment to generate renewable energy in ways that integrate more effectively with local regions: that's the aim of ENGIE Electrabel, Belgium's leading generator of green energy. At the Coo-Trois-Ponts pumped storage hydropower station in Wallonia, this goal is a reality, thanks to the combined benefits of energy storage and energy generated from the sun and wind. The Coo-Trois-Ponts power station is a crucial link in securing Belgium's electricity supply.
The Coo-Trois-Ponts pumped storage hydropower station in Wallonia has an extremely valuable feature: it is located in a natural landscape rising 250 meters. It uses this difference in height to harness the power of water to drive its turbines and generate clean, local electricity. It's precisely because this model has proven its worth since the 1970s that ENGIE Electrabel now wants to boost the overall capacity of this power generation hub.
The Coo-Trois-Ponts power station generates electricity that is crucial to balancing the Belgian grid. With two reservoirs at its highest level, and one at its lowest, this pumped storage hydropower plant has a maximum generating capacity of around 1,200 megawatts (MW).
But it is also capable of storing electricity on a grand scale. This is achieved by using surplus electricity from the grid to power the turbines and pump water into the upper reservoirs. Using this system, water is pumped and stored at peak generating times, and can then be used whenever there is demand from the grid. All that is needed is to start the turbines to offset a dip in generation or meet a high level of demand. This kind of flexibility is essential, given the rapid development of intermittent energy sources, such as solar and wind power.
ENGIE Electrabel now wants to go even further by expanding the on-site storage capacity and adding new renewables generating capacity to become a key link in the national energy transition.
The upgrades envisioned include plans for a third upper reservoir to increase the plant's energy storage capacity. In conjunction with two new turbines, this additional reservoir will increase site generating capacity by 50% from 1,200 MW to 1,800 MW, which is equivalent to that of four gas-fueled power plants.
Other solutions are also planned: