World Facts

The Tallest Dams in Switzerland

The Grande Dixence Dam is not only the tallest dam in Switzerland, but also the fifth tallest in the world.

There are thirteen dams considered to be the tallest in Switzerland. All of these dams have heights above 140 meters. Five out of the thirteen dams are found within the Valais canton namely Grande Dixence Dam, Mauvoisin Dam, Emosson Dam, Zeuzier Dam, and Moiry Dam. Below is the list of the tallest dams in Switzerland.

The Tallest Dams In Switzerland

Grande Dixence Dam

The Grande Dixence Dam is 285 meters high. It is a gravity dam located on the Dixence River in Switzerland. The construction of the dam began in 1950 and ended in 1961. Afterward, for nineteen years, Grande Dixence Dam was the tallest dam in the world. However, in 1980 the Soviet Union built the Nurek Dam which was 15 meters taller than Grande Dixence Dam. Presently, the dam is the tallest gravity dam and fifth tallest dam in the world. Its primary purpose is to generate hydroelectric power. It fuels four power stations which in turn produce electricity enough to run 400,000 Swiss households. The total capacity of Grande Dixence Dam is 400 million cubic meters.

Mauvoisin Dam

With a capacity of 211.5 million cubic meters, Mauvoisin Dam is the second tallest dam in Switzerland. It is located on the Dranse de Bagnes stream which is found in the Valais canton. Its construction took place from 1957-1958. However, in 1991, the dam was raised to increase the capacity of the reservoir to cater for storage during winter. Mauvoisin Dam primarily generates hydroelectric power. It is the 8th tallest dam worldwide being 250 meters high.

Luzzone Dam

The Luzzone Dam is located on the Lago di Luzzone River in the canton of Ticino. It has a capacity of 108 million cubic meters. The dam lies within the municipalities of Aquila and Ghirone in Switzerland. It lies at 1,606 meters above sea level and is 225 meters tall. Luzzone Dam is an arch dam which was completed in 1963. A part of the dam’s wall has become the world’s highest artificial climbing wall.

Verzasca Dam

Also known as Verzasca Dam, the Contra Dam is 220 meters high. It is located on River Verzasca situated in Ticino canton in Switzerland. The arch dam ranks as the fourth tallest dam in Switzerland. The construction of the dam took place from 1961 to 1965. Contra Dam was built 470 meters above sea level. It generates 105 MW of electricity produced by the Verzasca Hydroelectric Power Station. The dam’s total capacity is 105 million cubic meters. The Contra dam is famous for having been featured in the movie “Golden Eye,” and as a result, the movie won an award for the best stunt in film history.

Threat To Switzerland’s Dams

Most of Switzerland’s dams depend on glaciers. Studies have shown that these glaciers are drying up due to global warming. Presently, 56% of Switzerland’s energy comes from its 604 hydroelectric power plants. On the other hand, 40% of the energy comes from nuclear plants. Fossil fuels, wind, and solar energy provide the remaining 4% of energy. Hence, hydroelectric power is of great significance in Switzerland’s economy. In fact, the country imports some of its energy during winter. However, shrinking Swiss glaciers threaten the future of the energy power in the country. Hence, Switzerland should begin to seek solutions to tackle this threat.

The Tallest Dams in Switzerland

RankDamCantonRiverHeight (m)Height (ft)
1Grande Dixence DamValaisDixence285935
2Mauvoisin DamValaisBagnes250820
3Luzzone DamTicinoLago di Luzzone225738
4Contra DamTicinoVerzasca River220720
5Emosson DamValaisBarberini180590
6Zeuzier DamValaisLienne156512
7Göscheneralp DamUriGöschenerreuss155509
8Curnera DamGrisonsCurnera153502
9Zervreila DamGrisonsRiver Rhine151495
10Moiry DamValaisGougra148486
11GigerwaldSt. GallenTamina147482
12Limmern DamGlarusLimmern146479
13Valle di Lei DamGrisonsGraubünden141463

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