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With Alstom, innovation is at the heart of hydro power generation

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Alstom and the Fondation partenariale Grenoble INP inaugurated this week an industrial chair dedicated to hydraulic machines at the Polytechnic Institute of Grenoble (INP) in France. To celebrate this partnership with academic research. Alstom unveils to the press today one of its largest sites dedicated to hydro power in the French city of Grenoble.

As the world leader in hydroelectricity for over 100 years, Alstom invests in Research & Development in order to adapt to operators demands. The Alstom Renewable Power site in Grenoble hosts the headquarters for Alstoms hydro R&D activities. Created in 1917, it covers all aspects of the hydroelectric value chain: R&D, manufacturing, design, installation, service, marketing The Grenoble team provides support and expertise to a network of 6 Global Technology Centres for hydropower (GTC) located on four continents around the world.

The Grenoble site has six test rigs able to simulate the same conditions as a hydro power plant on a smaller scale. It has the world's largest test lab in terms of both the number of test rigs and the number of tests that can be carried out at the facility. Its main workshop is the place where the largest hydro turbine equipment is manufactured, like the Francis turbine wheels that equipped the Three Gorges dam in China: 700MW, 10m diameter, 400 tons!

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Increased flexibility thanks to variable speed pump turbine innovation

Hydro power is the world's leading source of renewable energy. It represents more than 16% of global electricity production and 80% of production from renewable sources. It is the only source of renewable energy that can be stored.  There has been unprecedented growth in hydro power over the past ten years, mainly because a large part of global hydroelectric reserves remain untapped. The most robust growth can be expected in Asia and Latin America. Hydroelectricity also has a new part to play in the evolution of the energy mix since it is capable of offsetting the intermittent nature of renewables like wind and solar power.

Variable-speed pumped storage turbine is the latest technological innovation in grid-scale energy storage, allowing operators to incorporate significant amounts of solar and wind energy while continually adapting supply to demand. Alstom is the world's leading supplier of pump turbines, having made over 20% of pump systems in use around the world today. In Grenoble, the very first variable speed pump turbine is currently made by Alstom. It will be installed in Linthal pumped storage plant, Switzerland, which will enter service in 2015.