Ritom Pumped-Storage Plant Project - Tunneling Under Extreme Conditions

The Ritom power plant in Ticino, which was built in 1920 and is located only a few kilo­meters from the Gotthard Tunnel, is in need of re­newal. Since 2018, a number of con­tract­ors from the Marti Group have been working on this over­all complex re­novation on behalf of Ritom SA.

The Ritom Pumped-Storage Plant Project is a hydroelectric power generation project located in the Swiss Alps. The project involves the construction of a tunnel system that connects two reservoirs located at different altitudes. During periods of high demand for electricity, water from the upper reservoir is released through the tunnel and into the lower reservoir, where it generates electricity by driving a turbine. During periods of low demand, the water is pumped back up to the upper reservoir to be used again later.

The construction of the tunnel system involved tunneling under extreme conditions, including high altitude, steep terrain, and difficult geology. The project team used a combination of conventional tunneling techniques and innovative approaches to overcome these challenges.

For example, to excavate the tunnel through the steep mountainside, the team used a technique called drill and blast, in which workers drilled holes into the rock face and then used explosives to break up the rock. To tunnel through softer ground, the team used a tunnel boring machine, which is a massive piece of equipment that can bore through rock and soil using a rotating cutterhead.

In addition to these conventional techniques, the project team also developed innovative approaches to overcome the challenges of tunneling at high altitude. For example, to deal with the reduced air pressure at high altitude, the team developed a special ventilation system that uses compressors to maintain a safe working environment for the workers. The team also used specialized equipment to transport workers and materials up and down the steep mountainside.

Overall, the Ritom Pumped-Storage Plant Project is an impressive example of how innovative engineering techniques can be used to overcome extreme conditions and deliver a major infrastructure project.

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