WATER POWER IN FRANCE.
C. P. H. Nason, United States consul at Grenoble, France, thus describes the power derived from the glaciers in that district: “An event marking a new era of prosperity for Grenoble and the region of the Dauphiné was the holding in September of this year of a ‘white coal’ convention. More than 500 prominent men of science—engineers, polytechnists, mill owners, and manufacturers—from France and other countries assembled in the Chamber of Commerce building and devoted their time to a thorough discussion of the utilisation of the waterpower of the glaciers and mountain streams of Alpine France. During the week excursions were made in different directions within a radius of fifty miles to inspect the score or more of factories, where the water is already utilised for the generation of electricity, the making of paper, soda, aluminum, acetylene, and chemical products of various kinds, and, in general, for the distribution of force. The railroads of France—25,000 miles—employ about 4,000,000 horsepower, and the other industries, about 2,500.000 horsepower—a total of 6,500,000-horsepower produced by steam. M. Berges estimates the hydraulic forces of France in her mountainous regions to be 10,000,000-horsepower. Even at a much reduced estimate, the measure of industrial development possible can readily be seen. The streams and cascades have been used to a certain extent for years, but not until recently, under the leadership of such enterprising men as Berges, Joya, and Desprez, has this water been ‘canalised—conducted by huge pipe from vast heights down the mountain sides, and, with the aid of turbine wheels, made to develop tens of thousands of horsepower and to distribute energy, heat, and light in all directions. Tt is a striking fact that the mighty energy cradled in the glaciers of the mountains and lying dormant through the centuries should be suddenly set free and made to turn the wheels of a hundred industries to meet the needs of man. The glaciers arc a mine of ‘white coal’ which, unlike the product of the earth, is inexhaustible. renewing itself from year to year. In 1863. it was deemed a bold achievement to bring water from a height of 260 feet, as at Uriage; but now M. Berges has succeeded in canalising a fall of 1,640 feet and another of T.804 feet. At Epierre Savoie, M. Joya used a fall of 1,935 feet and at Chapareillan twenty-five miles from Grenoble, another of 2,000 feet—until this year said to be the highest single fall in the world. (The highest is at Vouray, in Switzerland—3,018 feet.) At Lancey. a few miles northeast of Grenoble, the water which gives power to mills of various kinds and to the electrical plant which lights the valley of the Graisivairdan and maintains its several tramway systems, is brought by three successive falls, whose total is 6,560 feet. Light is furnished to the houses and farms of the vicinity at a very moderate cost; for example:
an average of $2.12 per lamp per year. Starting from the little lake of Domenon. among the snows of the peak of the same name, the water is drawn by pipes which tan the lake at its bottom, and carried to a lake lower down the mountains, and from this still farther down to a third lake, whence the conduits bear it, always at a certain gradient, to the factories below, where it yields an equivalent of 10.000 horsepower. As illustrating the enormous pressure of the water thus canalised, the pipes in many cases (as below) are as much as 3 to 30 millimeters, or 10.83 feet in diameter. The tunnel under the Thames at London has a diameter of meters, or ninety-eight and one-half feet, only. The Societe Hydro-Electrique de Pure et Merge at Grenoble, which utilises the waters of the torrent Drac, near Vizille, has 4.600 meters, or 15,092 feet (of which 8,200 feet are in steel plates and 6.802 feet in wired cement) of piping, with a diameter, as stated, of 10.83 feet. This installation permits the distribution of force to the extent of 3,500-horsepower, under a tension of 26,000 volts, for a distance of forty miles to factories in Moirans, Voiron, and Rives. Grenoble will soon be lighted by electricity, the power being supplied by the Electro-Chemical Society of the Romanche. which has its works in the village of Li vet—altitude 1.794 feet, twenty-seven miles distant from this city. The valley of the Romanche was. until recent years, sparsely populated; today, within a distance of twelve miles, there are already installed six establishments for the making of paper. wood pulp, acetylene, aluminum, etc., and for the generation of electric force. The stream itself is fed by the powerful glacial reservoirs of the Massifs of the Belledonne and the Pelooux—ranges of mountains in altitude from 9,800 to 13,000 feet on either side of the valley: and in winter and summer alike, this water supply is unremitting and abundant. With Grenoble thus lighted, as it were, by the melting snows, and furnished with a new motive force for turning its industrial wheels, it may well deserve its title of ‘the White Coal Capital.’”
So notable have been the achievements in and round Grenoble that there was recently held there a “white coal” convention. More than 500 prominent engineers and scientists from France and other countries assembled to examine and discuss the utilisation of the waterpower of the glaciers and mountain streams of Alpine France. To distribute this power over France would mean as much there as would the distribution of the power of Niagara over the State of New York and the surrounding country.