High-Stakes Headrace

Moglicë, Albania is a small town on the upturn due to construction of the Moglicë Hydropower Station – part of a new project known as Devoll Hydropower that will increase the country’s electricity production by 17 %. The new station, together with the nearby Banja Hydropower Station, will have an annual generating capacity of 242 MW. Once a dying community, residents are returning to Moglicë and finding work at the hydropower construction. At least 200 people have returned to the community after emigrating to Greece. But the project has not been without challenges: the remoteness of the jobsite, the mountainous terrain, and the complex geology make the excavation of the power station and its 6.7 km long headrace tunnel anything but simple.

The JV contractor responsible for the headrace tunnel, Limak/AGE, opted for a unique type of TBM to bore in ophiolite, flysch, mélange and breccia with suspected water inflows up to 20 bar. The 6.2 m diameter Robbins Crossover XRE TBM is the first such machine to be used in Europe (Fig. 1), and has been designed with features of both hard rock Double Shield and EPB TBMs.

Power to the People

Currently, nearly all of Albania’s electricity is provided by aging hydroelectric power plants, which are becoming ineffective due to increasing droughts. In answer, Devoll Hydropower Sh.A., an Albanian...

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