Built on the Grand Canal d’Alsace which runs parallel to the Rhine, the Kembs hydroelectric development is first in everything! It was the first to be commissioned in 1932 and is the first in the chain of 10 large EDF power plants on Franco-German Rhine. It is also the first run-of-river energy production site of this scale to be built in the world after that at the Niagara Falls. Not only this, the width of the Grand Canal d’Alsace is even larger than that of the Suez and Panama Canals!
It was designed from the outset both to regulate the flow of the Rhine, which experienced devastating flooding in the past, to generate electricity and also to enable continuous navigation on the river.
The site has 3 structures: a dam, double-chamber locks – the largest on the Rhine – and the hydroelectric power plant. At the head of the line, it also houses the Rhine Remote Control Centre from where all the EDF power plants on the Rhine are managed.
The Kembs power plant has six vertical turbine generators with a total power of 160 megawatts. It is what is called a “run-of-river” or “low fall” plant which generates electricity regularly, unlike dams with large reservoirs which are used to store water to cope with temporary need in case of peaks in electricity demand.
The guided tour takes visitors to the plant’s imposing machines room, the hydraulic control room, the upstream side of the plant (where the water enters the turbines) and the locks. The tour gives an understanding of the history of the development of the Rhine, how hydropower generation and navigation are organised, and reveals all the environmental measures deployed to protect the biodiversity of the river. Today as part extending its concession, EDF is leading operations for the environmental restoration of approximately 100 hectares on the Rhine Island, including the restoration of a former arm of the river known as “le petit Rhin”. An inventory of the biodiversity has been drawn up, 380,000 m3 of excavated material have been moved – some of which was used to enrich the alluvial deposits in the river -, and 150,000 plants have been planted in the Petite Camargue Alsacienne National Nature Reserve). The flow of the Old Rhine has even been allowed to increase, restoring a little of its former glory. The wildlife has not been forgotten either with the construction of two new fish passes and a beaver crossing.
IndividualsIndividual visit: Oui
Guided tour: Oui
GroupsRestrictions for group visits: Visite sur rendez-vous
Group visits booking info:
Please contact our Exirys guide on +33 (0)6 77 11 62 18 to book your visit.
Tours take place from Monday to Friday: 8 am to 12 pm and 2 pm to 4 pm.
Several groups can be welcomed at the same time.
Visitors must present a valid form of identification upon arrival for the tour (national ID card or passport).
Minimum age for access to the site is 12 years old.
Suitable clothing (trousers) and flat, closed shoes must be worn by all.
Minimum number of people: 8
Maximum number of people: 15
Group rate: Free of charge
School rate: Free of charge
General informationLength of the visit: 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes depending on the chosen circuit
Languages spoken: German
Age limit: 12
Cash payment: No
Payment by cheque: No
Bank card payment: No
AMEX payment: No
Disabled access: No
Car parks: Yes
Coach parks: Yes