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Alpiq starts up modernised Lavorgo switching station

Following work to modernise the Lavorgo substation in canton Ticino, Alpiq celebrated the start-up with an official inauguration on 20 September 2011. The new 380-/220-kV switching station plays an important role in Switzerland's transmission grid, by connecting the canton of Ticino with communities north of the Alps as well as the North-South axis with canton Valais and western Switzerland via the Gotthard and Luckmanier lines.

Alpiq has modernised the 380-/220-kV Lavorgo installation between Faido and Biasca in canton Ticino, which has been in operation for more than 40 years. The renovations were necessitated on the one hand because the installation, and in particular the transformers, had reached the end of their useful lives; and on the other hand, to address the changed requirements imposed on the Swiss high-voltage grid: including the rising demand for electricity, a larger share of electricity from renewable energy sources and the growing strain on the grid. Alpiq EnerTrans AG was responsible for the planning, construction and commissioning of the new installation, in conjunction with Alpiq Asset Management Rete Ticino. The construction work lasted 18 months. The new installation boasts four 300-tonne transformers with a total capacity of 800 MVA. Alpiq used only gas-insulated switching elements in the control panels. State-of-the-art control technology was used for the controls. The investment costs are in the region of CHF 70 million.

Lavorgo substation increases security of supply The new Lavorgo switching station acts as a hub within the Swiss transmission grid, connecting power plants in canton Ticino with consumer centres north and south of the Alps via the North-South axis. It also connects western Switzerland to this North-South axis via the transport lines in canton Valais. There is still a gap in the Valais ultra-high-voltage grid between Chamoson and Ulrichen, i.e. the connection in canton Valais is not yet comprehensively fitted for 380 kV voltage. When this part of Switzerland's strategic grid is connected at some point in the future, western Switzerland and power plants in the Valais can be connected to the Swiss electricity grid via the high-performance switching station in Lavorgo.

The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) will also benefit from a strong West-East connection through the Valais over the Nufenen Pass, Bedretto Valley and the Leventina. The closure of the gap in Upper Valais thanks to a 132-kV line is of major importance for the SBB, ahead of the opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

Further information on the grid situation in canton Valais: