Enercon – Europe?s highest wind farm installed in the Alps

Last October, the Urseren electric works and ENERCON launched operations on the “Gütsch” near Andermatt, Europe’s highest wind farm. Two E-44/900 kW wind turbines are now running alongside an E-40/600 kW installed at 2332 metres above sea level since 2004.

Transport to the wind power plant was a real challenge,” says Nils Niedermowwe from Enercon Project Management. Coming from the North, the shortest way to Gütsch Mountain branches off at Gotthard and runs through the Schöllenen Gorge.

But the serpentine roads there are too narrow. “We had to go through the Gotthard tunnel and double back via the Gotthard Pass to Andermatt. From there, a narrow military road leads up to the site." Enercon was able to fall back on plans they used when the E-40 was installed on the Gütsch in 2004 since the dimensions of the E-44 are only slightly different to the 600 kW wind energy machine. Niedermowwe: “Some places were extremely tight and we were manoeuvring within a couple of millimetres between the mountain wall and edge of the road."

The timeframe for installation was between mid-July and the beginning of October. “In August we had to interrupt work because of snow,” reports Niedermowwe. At that time, transporting the components and construction material was not possible via the Gotthard Pass and work on-site was too risky. In addition, the soil turned out to be more varied than expected. In some places the pit for the foundation had to be backfilled with gravel in the middle of the granite rock. The two wind turbines have now been installed since the middle of September.

The wind farm is owned by Elektrizitätswerk Useren (EWU) in Andermatt. EWU uses part of the annual yield of 3.25 mio. kWh for its own purposes and part of the “naturemade star” certified energy is sold to other Swiss utilities. “We will soon be bringing our own ecological power product to the market which combines hydropower and wind power," announced Markus Russi, EWU manager.
Russi has been enthused by Enercon’s sophisticated technology ever since the installation of the E-40 wind turbine at this challenging site. "Only an Enercon machine is able to master the harsh climate, turbulences and wind speeds up to 50 m/s primarily because it is gearless and equipped with storm control.” Russi is also impressed with the after-sales service: “99% availability at this site is an outstanding track record!”