The capacity of the plant was increased by 7.5% to 57MW, each of the four generating units being upgraded from 13.25MW to 14.25MW.

Refurbishment and upgrade of the hydromechanical equipment at five of the utility’s hydro plants is being undertaken by Voith Hydro with Andritz Hydro. The other four plants on the Lower Olt river cascade are Draganesti, Frunzaru, Rusanesti and Izbiceni.

The JV is upgrading a total of 20 identical units, each plant having four bulbs turbines. The existing capacity of each plant is 53MW. With the completion of the work at Ipotesti the JV team has upgraded seven units.

The package of work also includes auxiliary installations plus local and remote control systems.

Hidroelectrica said it is investing approximately Euro350M (US$507M) on the modernisation project.

Work started in 2005 and is scheduled for completion in 2011, said Hidroelectrica. In the early stages of the contract it was anticipated that the last unit would be upgraded by late 2010.

The cascade will also operate in pumping mode, to reverse flows back to the head reservoir, a system that the utility said is unique in Europe. The pumped storage capability is needed to have fast response to help smooth the load curve, it added.