Hydropower and the power of water

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Last year in my blogspot “A vacation highlight between nature and technology” I reported on the Limberg III Project. During my hiking holiday I was once again drawn to the Kaprun reservoirs. I wanted to see how construction was progressing and take in the magic of this special place.

Start of construction for the Limberg III pumped storage plant

Shortly after my first visit to Kaprun, on 17 September 2021, construction work on this trailblazing project got underway. Michael Strugl, VERBUND chairman, gave a moving speech in celebration of the day: “This is about nothing less than saving the climate and hence the planet. And when we look at this magnificent landscape today, which we admire so much, then we want to pass it on to future generations too. To achieve this, we need to completely change our energy system!” Limberg III will make a key contribution to that. 

Power bank for power supplies in Austria

After completion, the power plant will be able to respond extremely flexibly to the demand for balancing and control energy. The two variable speed pump turbines with an output of 240 MW each are capable, for example, of substituting for up to 100 wind turbines or 100,000 home photovoltaic systems in just seconds. This means that Limberg III will become Austria’s “power bank” and will make a major contribution to grid stability, reliable and efficient power supplies as well as blackout provision. A key step for the energy transition and for Austria’s objective of generating one hundred percent of its electricity from renewable energies by 2030. It’s simply amazing what possibilities hydropower opens up!

From left to right: Mooserboden reservoir, Mooser dam, Wasserfallboden reservoir, Limberg dam

Mystical summer solstice

One year on and I wanted to visit this project area again. Having thought that I had already discovered all the holiday highlights of the high mountain reservoir area, I really pricked up my ears when planning my holiday this year: A mystical event for the summer solstice involving an alpine shamanic ceremony and solstice fire. Doesn’t that sound exciting?

On 18 June 2022 the participants gathered at the ticket building at the Kaprun reservoirs. The ride up along the familiar route was by bus and a funicular lift. Little was to be seen of the construction work along the way, as this is done during daytime. Only right up at the top at an altitude of about 2,040 m can the camp of those working on the project be seen.

Hydropower and the power of water

Having arrived at the Mooserboden reservoir, we stopped together at a pagan church. I didn’t really notice this on my last visit. This work of art, erected in 1959, is in memory of the engineers and construction workers who died in an accident. It symbolises the protective cloak of St. Barbara, which watches over the power plants and the Kaprun valley. The inscription “One work, born from labour and sacrifice” commemorates the forces of nature in the Hohe Tauern region and the importance of this project.

Standing before this memorial, alpine shaman Rainer Limpöck describes the mythological meaning of this spiritual site to us and begins his evocative shamanic ceremony. Traditionally, you then slip through a gap in the rocks afterwards. According to tradition, this brings inspiration, initiation and healing. The power of water is omnipresent at this moment.

Photo: VERBUND Tourismus

Full of renewed energy, we walked over the imposing arched dam to the Höhenburg. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to climb the last few metres to the summit cross. Having already been enchanted by the turquoise glittering water and the impressive Moosersperre dam, this time the unique atmosphere and the beginning of the sunset were even better. Isn’t the view simply fantastic? I still can’t believe that such a dam can hold back the enormous force of the water.

For refreshment, a delicious potato goulash awaited us afterwards under the open sky, before we all lit the solstice fire together at 9 p.m. The atmospheric cracking of the flames and the rhythmic drum sounds provide the right setting for handing over our wish lists to the universe. So we sat around the campfire late into the night, dancing and enjoying the power of the water around us.

Photo: VERBUND Tourismus

The way home led us over the torch-lit dam wall – a magical moment! See you next year.

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