Hidroelectrica completes the Surduc-Nehoiasu hydropower tunnel

Hidroelectrica, the Romanian state-owned hydropower company, held an inauguration ceremony on 10 September following the completion of the country’s longest headrace tunnel built since 1984, representing an investment of more than EUR 150 million.

Photograph of Hidroelectrica staff and contractors in the Surduc-Nehoiaşu headrace tunnel on the day of it

The tunnel is part of the Surduc-Siriu hydropower project, initiated in 1981, which spans the Buzău, Bâsca Mare, Bâsca Mică rivers in the Buzău, Covasna and Vrancea counties. The Surduc-Nehoiașu tunnel will deliver water from the Surduc storage reservoir to the Nehoiașu powerhouse.

At approximately 16.6 km in length, the tunnel has a diameter of 4 m and a discharge capacity of 40 m3 per second. Its concrete lining is 30–35 cm thick.

Breaking another record for Hidroelectrica, it will allow for the highest hydraulic head, currently under construction, in the company’s portfolio – about 490 m.

The completion of the Surduc-Nehoiaşu bypass will enable Hidroelectrica to increase capacity at the Nehoiașu powerhouse. The new plant will have an installed capacity of 55 MW and will generate, on average, around 172 GWh of electricity each year.

Photograph of Mr Remus Borza, judicial administrator at Hidroelectrica shaking hands with Mr Andrei Gerea, the Romanian minister of energy, at the tunnel's inauguration ceremony

This is comparable to the Nehoiaşu I power station, which has an installed capacity of 42 MW delivered by two generating units, and an average generational output of around 121 GWh per year. This older plant was commissioned in 1988.

The value of the Surduc-Nehoiașu project will reach around RON 850 million (about EUR 189 million), with the rest of the project expected to cost around RON 250 million (about EUR 57 million).

Moving forward, Hidroelectrica is preparing to implement the rest of a substantial investment plan for 2015-2020.

The company’s budget for development, upgrades and maintenance in this period is over EUR 1.3 billion, including EUR 450 million for new hydropower projects, EUR 305 million for upgrades and refurbishments at existing plants and EUR 240 million for maintenance works.

Hidroelectrica also has plans to invest some EUR 300 million in the development of complementary renewable technologies, such as wind and solar power.

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