Grid project Chippis – Mörel

A new 380-kilovolt line is being constructed between Chippis and Mörel. The construction of this line is necessary to ensure that all of the energy generated from hydropower in the Valais can reach the centres in Central Switzerland and Ticino.

Your contact for this grid project

Jan Schenk
Jan Schenk

Phone +41 58 580 21 11
info@swissgrid.ch

220 kV line
220 kV line
Planning area
Planning area
Dismantling
Dismantling
Existing line
Existing line
Substation
Substation

Overview

The increase in voltage of the extra-high-voltage line between Chippis and Mörel from 220 to 380 kilovolts is part of the «Strategic Grid 2025» of Swissgrid. It is used to transport energy generated by hydropower in Valais to the urban areas of the Central Switzerland. This is an important element of the Energy Strategy 2050 and will increase the security of supply in Valais and all of Switzerland in the long term.

The project calls for the construction of a new approx. 44-km 380-kV line between the substations Chippis and Mörel. The Federal Council identified the corridor for the overhead line in the sectoral plan in 2012. The existing 220-kV line between Chippis and Mörel will be dismantled once the new overhead line has been commissioned. This step will provide relief to residential areas, especially around Leuk-Susten, Niedergampel, Gampel, Raron, Steg, Baltschieder and Brig.

Swissgrid conducted a study for laying the line underground on the Agarn – Mörel section to prepare for the grid project Chippis – Mörel. The objective is to take the local circumstances into consideration in more detail and to better assess the technical solution and costs of underground lines.

Improvement compared to the current situation

  • The new 380-kV line runs away from the settlement areas along the shady south-facing slope. The existing 220-kV line leads right through a number of villages in the area of Leuk-Susten, Niedergampel, Gampel, Steg, Raron Baltschieder and Brig, restricting them in their development.
  • The cable study conducted in Pfynwald forest concluded that an underground line does not constitute an added value for this natural landscape. Swissgrid is implementing various replacement and environmental protection measures to compensate for the intrusion into nature. The two extra-high-voltage lines Chippis – Mörel and Chippis – Stalden run parallel between the substation Chippis and Agarn. In addition, Swissgrid is cabling various lines on a lower-voltage level (for example the 65-kV line Leuk – Lötschen) or bundling them on the new route (for example the 65-kV line Chippis – Turtmann). Overall, the burden on this unique pine forest will be reduced in comparison to the current situation.
  • The removal of the 65-kV overhead lines will especially provide relief to the industrial area of the municipality of Salgesch as well as the residential areas in Leuk-Susten and Agarn.
  • The burden on the population will be reduced overall by the greater distance of the line to the residential areas. Electromagnetic fields will either meet or be well below the limits defined in new and strict regulations.
Opinions and impressions of the project

Project

The project calls for the construction of a new 44-km 380-kV extra-high-voltage line between the substations Chippis and Mörel. The new line route will pass along the shady southern-facing slope. An additional 220-kV circuit (Stalden – Mörel) is planned to run from Visp to Mörel. Furthermore, the 220-kV line Mörel – Pallanzeno (Simplon line) will be laid on the route as of Ried-Brig to Mörel. The existing 220-kV line between Chippis and Mörel will be dismantled once the new overhead line has been commissioned. This step will provide relief to residential areas, especially around Leuk-Susten, Niedergampel, Gampel, Raron, Steg, Baltschieder and Brig.

In Visp, the new line will pass along the west-facing slope, in the south and along the east-facing slope around the village. Due to the steep hillside situation, the new line passes far above the village. The existing 220/65-kV lines Visp – Stalden already pass along the east-facing slope. These lines will be bundled with the 380-kV project. The current valley traverse in Eyholz via Lonza-Werke will be dismantled to the splitter mast in Lalden. In the area Unterstalden/Staldbach in Visperterminen, Swissgrid will lay the existing 220-kV line Stalden – Mörel as well as the 65-kV lines. This step will provide relief to the residential area «Untere Stalden».

For the natural protection reserve Pfynwald, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) has decided to lay the two extra-high-voltage lines Chippis – Mörel and Chippis – Stalden parallel between the substation Chippis and Agarn. This is for reasons of operational management, maintenance and repair in the event of failure. Swissgrid is cabling various lines on a lower voltage level (for example 65-kV line Leuk – Lötschen) or is bundling them on the new route (for example 65-kV line Leuk – Turtmann). Overall, the burden on this unique pine forest will be reduced compared to the current situation.

The project also includes approval for the 220-kV line Chippis – Stalden (Törbel line). This line currently only carries one power circuit and will now be supplemented with another. On the section from Chippis to the traverse of Emsbach in Agarn, the line will be constructed parallel to the new line Chippis – Mörel. The line route between Agarn and Stalden will remain unchanged.

The total cost for the new extra-high-voltage line Chippis – Mörel will amount to approximately 110 million Swiss francs.

General site plan Chippis – Mörel
General site plan Chippis – Mörel
Animation of the Chippis – Mörel line
Animation of the Chippis – Mörel line

Timetable

The project Chippis – Mörel was included in the sectoral plan for transmission lines (SÜL) in 2001. The Federal Council specified an overhead line corridor in 2012. Swissgrid was commissioned to construct the overhead line. On 29 March 2019, Swissgrid submitted the planning approval procedure for the 380-kV line project Chippis – Mörel and for the 220-kV line project Chippis – Stalden to the Federal Inspectorate for Heavy Current Installations (ESTI).

Ideally, the commissioning for the new 380-kV line Chippis – Mörel is planned for 2025. In case of objections and legal proceedings, commissioning may be delayed by several years.

Agarn – Mörel cable study

For each grid project, Swissgrid checks cable as well as overhead line options. Swissgrid conducted a study for laying the line underground (in German) in cooperation with a Valais-based engineering office on the Agarn – Mörel section to prepare for the grid project Chippis – Mörel. Regional development, the environment and economic efficiency are factors which are taken into consideration in addition to technical aspects.

Swissgrid proceeded as follows:

  1. Swissgrid reviewed whether any significant changes took place in the decision-making foundations. This could include newly protected areas or infrastructure previously not taken into consideration which would enable a better cable line, for example an abandoned tunnel or old railway tracks. The cable study found that the situation in terms of the environment, regional planning, technology and costs has not changed much over the last few years.
  2. Swissgrid analysed whether today’s state of technology for construction and cabling systems allows for a next generation of underground cable. Developments that would make the construction and operation of cable lines easier have not taken place in construction technology or in cable technology. Specifically, Swissgrid examined the possibility of underground lines at various sections near the overhead line corridor. Underground cables could be laid for a few individual sections. It is important to note that cable cannot be laid underground along the overhead line corridor.
  3. Swissgrid reviewed the cost of possible underground line options in comparison with the cost of an overhead line option. The cost for the construction of a cable line depend on the terrain and substrate as well as the resulting structural shape. Energy prices have significantly dropped compared to back then which reduces the life cycle cost of a cable line. The cost for the underground line option were estimated to amount to about 13 million Swiss francs per kilometre in the cable study Agarn – Mörel. This is about 5 times as much as the overhead line for the same section.

The cable study reviewed nine subsections in the vicinity of the overhead line corridor. Thus, underground cables are only possible in some sections. To this end, transition structures would be required to connect the underground cable with the overhead line. They would be approximately the same size as an ice hockey rink and about 25 metres high. Underground line construction would be very complex and cost-intensive as some of the cable lines would pass through very steep terrain which is difficult to access. Furthermore, the lines would have to be laid under several bodies of water. As a result, these difficult terrain conditions would require the construction of four mining tunnels with a total length of approximately 8 kilometres.

Underground cabling has already been examined as part of the sectoral plan for transmission lines for the Pfynwald forest area (protected landscape; area 1716 Pfynwald forest – Illgraben). After applying the protection criteria, the responsible authorities decided that the future 380-kV line Chippis – Mörel would be planned as an overhead line. The route of the line along the southern foot of the slope and the underground cabling/bundling of lower voltage lines according to the «Pfynwald forest line concept» will result in an improvement overall.

Section 1: Leuk, from Pfynwald to Turtmann, Milachru (4,75 km)
1/9: Section 1: Leuk, from Pfynwald to Turtmann, Milachru (4,75 km)
Section 2: Turtmann, from Milachru to Turtmann, Tännu (3,82 km)
2/9: Section 2: Turtmann, from Milachru to Turtmann, Tännu (3,82 km)
Section 3: Turtmann, from Tännu to Niedergesteln, Unner Turtig (5,84 km)
3/9: Section 3: Turtmann, from Tännu to Niedergesteln, Unner Turtig (5,84 km)
Section 4: Niedergesteln, from Unner Turtig to Visp West (4,92 km)
4/9: Section 4: Niedergesteln, from Unner Turtig to Visp West (4,92 km)
Section 5: Visp, from Blättji to Visp, Staldbach  (2,95 km)
5/9: Section 5: Visp, from Blättji to Visp, Staldbach (2,95 km)
Section 6: Visp, from Staldbach to Eyholz, Grosshüs (4,09 km)
6/9: Section 6: Visp, from Staldbach to Eyholz, Grosshüs (4,09 km)
Section 7: Eyholz, from Grosshüs to Brig-Glis, Ännerholz/Oberli (5,06 km)
7/9: Section 7: Eyholz, from Grosshüs to Brig-Glis, Ännerholz/Oberli (5,06 km)
Section 8: Brig-Glis, from Ännerholz/Oberli to Termen, Fäldgrabe (4,05 km)
8/9: Section 8: Brig-Glis, from Ännerholz/Oberli to Termen, Fäldgrabe (4,05 km)
Section 9: Termen, from Fäldgrabe to Mörel-Filet, substation Mörel (3,60 km)
9/9: Section 9: Termen, from Fäldgrabe to Mörel-Filet, substation Mörel (3,60 km)

People & environment

The construction of large-scale infrastructure such as an extra-high-voltage line will impact the landscape and environment. For Swissgrid, it is a matter of course to compensate for such an impact on the landscape. To this end, Swissgrid implements various environmental protection measures. In addition, the existing line will be dismantled which currently passes right through villages in the area of Leuk-Susten, Niedergampel, Gampel, Raron, Steg and Baltschieder and Brig.

Landscape

The new extra-high-voltage line will be built on the shaded southern slope further away from the residential areas. There, it will pass through the western part at altitudes ranging from 600 metres to 1400 metres above sea level and up to 1200 metres above sea level in the eastern part, avoiding higher, more exposed conditions. The line will pass through a number of valleys and trenches, for example Illgraben valley, Nanztal valley and Vispertal valley as well as Saltinaschlucht gorge. Additional visual impairments will occur in the area of Turtmann and in the valley traverse Visp/Stalden.

The dismantling of existing lines will provide significant relief for residential areas and leisure facilities. In the area around Leuk-Susten, Niedergampel, Gampel, Raron, Steg and Baltschieder and Brig, this line leads right through villages, restricting their possibilities in settlement developments. In Visp, the residential area on the west-facing slope, in the south and on the east-facing slope will be bypassed. Due to the steep inclines, the new line will pass above the village and will be more visible from the surrounding hiking paths than from the centre of the village. To the south of Visp, the new line will pass through Vispertal valley close to the new motorway bridge and is especially visible from Visperterminen.

Due to the bundling of the new line with the existing 220-kV line Stalden – Visp – Mörel, the burden on area around Visp to Bitsch will be reduced. In Visp, the existing line Stalden – Lalden will be dismantled from the splitter mast in Lalden, via Lonza-Werke to the intersection with the new 380-kV line.

Environmental protection

Shortly after the substation Chippis, the line passes through the protected Pfynwald nature park. For this reason, the line route will pass along the foot of the hill with as little intrusion as possible. In the Pfynwald forest, the two lines Chippis – Mörel and Chippis – Stalden will be bundled on the same route. Lines with lower voltage levels will be laid or bundled as well. Overall, the burden on this unique pine forest will be significantly reduced compared to the current situation.

The alternative measures for the replacement of the forest clearance will take place in the Pfyn-Ginges nature park. The canton is still in the process of defining the alternative measures required for the clearance easements.

Electromagnetic fields

The burden on the population will be reduced by the greater distance of the line to the residential area. Electromagnetic radiation will either meet or be well below the limit of 1 μT. The noise pollution will be significantly reduced through the use of new technology and bundles of two..

Natural hazards

The construction approval is subject to strict conditions. One of these conditions stipulates that a review will be performed together with canton geologists and engineering offices to determine whether protective measures are required for the masts. Possible natural hazards are landslides, mudslides, avalanches or rock falls. To counter these natural hazards in hazardous areas, the masts will be secured with reinforced mast foundations and anchors, nets or earth banks, for example. In coordination with the authorities, Swissgrid will verify whether protective measures for avalanches and snow slides are necessary.


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