Power plants Gampel I to Gampel III




Due to the shortage of coal for power generation after 1850 they had to look for alternative ways. In the 1890s the first hydropower plants were built in Valais. The river Lonza which flows through the Loetschental down to Gampel was an ideal source for a power plant.

In 1897 a community of interests was formed for the usage of the water from the river Lonza for a power plant. After tough negotiations with the municipalities Steg and Gampel, the concession was granted on March 2. Shortly afterwards, the «Lonza Elektrizitätswerke» were founded for the production of calcium carbide and acetylene. This small company has developed into the global active chemical company «Lonza».

Shortly after the founding of the «Lonza Elektrizitätswerke» they began with survey works for the power plant Gampel I. In summer 1897 they started with the construction work. For the power plant a water intake was built in Kloesterli. The construction works already were finished in 1898. Through a pressure tunnel and a downspout the water reached the turbines in the central of the power plant Gampel I. In 1948 the 6 turbines contributed around 3900 HP or 5304 KW.

Soon after the commissioning of the power plant Gampel I they noticed that the performance for the production of petrochemical products was not enough. A new and bigger plant was needed. So, they asked the canton of Valais for the concession to construct and operate another power plant called Gampel II. The concession was granted on June 28 1898.

One year later, the construction works for the new power plant began. The water was collected in Mittal and passed through a 1500 meter long pressure tunnel to the new central in Kloesterli. The new power plant was built, so that the water flowed back into the river Lonza before the water intake of Gampel I. So the water could be used again. Because the turbines were excessively frayed by sand, a desanding system before the water intake was built in 1928. The 5 turbines of Gampel II contributed around 8000 HP or 10800 KW.

After the commissioning of the power plant Gampel II they noticed again, that the performance was not enough. So, they asked for a concession to build and operate a third power plant called Gampel III. The concession was granted on December 18 1904. Due to differences of opinion for the compensation payments there was no further action until 1919. But even after that, construction works not begun. The construction period was extended three times until 1944.

During World War II the demand for energy rose rapidly, which resulted in the beginning of construction works for the power plant Gampel III. The new power plant was built very fast. A first meeting was held on August 12 1941. After the visit three days later, the construction works began in October 1941. Up to 725 workers were employed on the site. After only one year later the water intake in Riti, a 3900 meter long pressure tunnel and the new Central in Mittal were finished and the power plant Gampel III could be taken in operation. The turbines of Gampel III contributed around 12500 HP or 17000 KW.

In 1975 the new reservoir in Ferden was taken in operation. Because there was not left enough water in the river Lonza, the three power plants Gampel I to Gampel III war taken out of service. Most of the buildings are still preserved. The technical equipment was removed, so that there is only the building shell left. The former pressure tunnels are opened again. Today they are collecting water in the tunnels for use in different buildings around Goppenstein and Mittal. Through the tunnels also runs the power cable, which supplies the Loetschental with power. By laying the cable into the tunnel, the power outages in the winter could be drastically reduced.