EDF’s Kembs hydroelectric development, located in the department of Haut-Rhin, immediately downstream of the port of Basle, is the first to have been brought into service on the Rhine. It is composed of a dam, locks and a hydroelectric power station. The Kembs dam is located where the Rhine island begins, between the banks of the Vieux Rhin and the Alsace Grand Canal. It provides water for three other power stations as far as Vogelgrun and the locks operated by EDF allow navigation 24/7. The power station, which has vertical turbine generators, combines with the other nine hydroelectric power stations on the Rhine to produce over eight billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year, with zero C02 emissions. It also houses the Rhine Remote Control Centre, which coordinates the operation of the chain of power stations on the Rhine.

Currently, as part of the new concession that came into force at the end of 2010, EDF is leading operations on a major conservation project regarding the Rhine’s ecosystems. It is based on five measures :

  1. a significant increase in the Vieux Rhin of the minimum flow required for aquatic life – the ‘instream flow’ – which has already been effective ;
  2. the re-establishment of a natural flow of gravel to the riverbed of the Vieux Rhin – essential for the development of fish breeding and alluvial vegetation – by implementing controlled erosion of the banks: a first in Europe ;
  3. construction of three structures to foster the movement of species: a fish pass in the form of a pseudo-natural river directly downstream of the power station has already been brought into operation; another is under construction at the dam, where a beaver crossing is also planned ;
  4. restoration of 100 hectares of natural wetlands on the Île du Rhin, including restoration of a former seven-kilometre arm of the river within the PCA Nature Reserve ;
  5. 5. construction of a small power station between the Rhine and the Grand Canal to drive part of the Vieux Rhin’s instream flow and generate the attraction flow required to draw fish towards its fish pass.

Exemplary features of the plan that has been implemented

Amongst the many, ambitious ecological aims of the restored arm of the river (point 4 above): a biological connection zone, creation of reproduction and growth zones, in particular for large Salmonidae, creation of new habitats enabling aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates linked to alluvial environments to return, creation of quality populations of macrophytes and helophytes, restoration of habitats that make possible the maintenance or return of certain species of amphibians, birds and mammals, etc.

Exemplary features of the technical solutions implemented

  • The sensitive nature of the environment has been taken into account (part of the work taking place within the Petite Camargue Alsacienne National Nature Reserve)
  • A rock rip-rap fish pass has been built and the banks protected by means of plants and cuttings.

List of skills that can be seen on the site

  • Bioengineering
  • On-site ecological recycling of all debris

Key figures

  • Development put into service in 1932
  • Six vertical turbine generators developing a total of 160 megawatts
  • A dam with five openings, each 30 metres wide, and a drop of 14.2 metres
  • The Alsace Grand Canal 52 kilometres in length with a depth varying between 9 and 12 metres and width of between 135 and 150 metres
  • Locks : Two chambers 25 metres wide, respectively 190 metres and 183 metres in length, with a depth of 20.5 metres
  • New small power station Two generators with a total output of 8.4 megawatts
  • Restoration  of the Île du Rhin over more than 100 hectares of land and forest
  • Restoration of a seven kilometre water course with a flow rate of seven cubic metres per second

Main stakeholder


54 Avenue Schuman - BP 1007, 68050 Mulhouse

Players involved and their roles