Stories

The Nore 1 hydropower station dominates the landscape with its tower, spire and arches. The plant from 1928 is still an important power producer – and a rather ordinary workplace.

Facts

The Nore 1 power plant exploits the elevation difference between Tunhovfjorden and the centre of Rødberg in Nore og Uvdal municipality in the county of Buskerud, Norway. It is has an installed capacity of 206 MW from eight generators. The water from the power station is discharged into the Rødberg dam, where it is collected for use in Nore 2.

As a young boy, he often came to visit his father working at the power plants in Nore. Today, Otto Engen is a power plant manager himself at Nore 1 with 26 employees.

“The people working here are mostly concerned with doing our jobs in the best manner possible,” he says. And that is sometimes challenging in a building worthy of preservation.

“The maintenance is naturally more expensive, but Nore 1 obviously has a historical cultural value,” says Engen.

Groundbreaking engineering work

In the early 1900s, rumours were circulating regarding sale of natural resources in this area to foreigners.

This is how Nore 1 became the direct reason for urgent laws in the Norwegian parliament that ensured the Norwegian state retained ownership of hydropower. The plant also represents groundbreaking engineering work.

“Nore 1 was the first major plant built for general supply in Norway,” says Engen.

“The challenge was transporting the electricity all the way to the consumers. The voltage level was set at 132 kV, which at the time was very high.”

With large windows, ceiling arches, towers and spires, the power plant has an almost sacred air about it.

Pipelines
The impressive, neoclassical building reflects the significance of power plants in their time.

More mighty than the Royal Palace...

“The impressive, neoclassical building reflects the significance of power plants in their time,” says Erling Nystad.

He is responsible for Statkraft’s protection plan, comprising nearly 70 installations. The plan is currently being processed by the Directorate for Cultural Heritage.

Architects Lorentz Ree and Carl Buch, whose accomplishments include the Vigeland Museum in Oslo, won the architecture competition to draw Nore 1.

However, not everyone agreed on the expensive design. Dagbladet (Norway’s second largest tabloid newspaper) joked that the remote building would become more mighty than the Royal Palace.

“Should any tourists get lost up there, if they are people with any common sense – they will be shocked at the discovery of such a monumental and magnificent building in such a place. This is simply making a ridicule of our country and people. A monument to madness!”

History has proven the journalist wrong. The old power plants are rather monuments to industry and development of prosperity.

Text: Jenny Bull Tuhus
Photo: Thomas Ekström
Also published in Statkraft's magazine People & Power no. 2/2014