The Glomfjord power plant stands like a monument to Norway's energy success story that began more than 100 years ago.

Not only is Glomfjord one of the oldest power plants Statkraft operates – a brand new power plant has been opened inside the same enormous building.

For the tidy sum of NOK 120, the local sheriff and the church cantor in Meløy bought the waterfall rights to the Fykanaga River in Glomfjord in 1898. Interest in hydropower development had grown quickly after the Norwegian state acquired its first waterfall, Paulenfossen in Vest-Agder county, in 1895.

Eventually, the state also got involved in Glomfjord and bought not only the power plant, but the whole industrial town that Glomfjord Corporation planned to establish.

"The plant laid the foundation for the growth of the industrial municipality of Meloy. There was nothing here in Glomfjord before the power plant was built, and the local community is still very dependent on power as well as on water from us," explains power plant manager Karl Svein Thorrud.

The monumental and religiously inspired design of the first Norwegian power plants says something about how important they were in their time. The Glomfjord power plant was designed by Olaf Nordhagen, who was also the architect behind the beautiful Vemork plant at Rjukan and the restoration of the famous Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.

The cathedral-like building at the head of Glomfjorden has housed six generators, but today only one of them is still in operation. Two remain as historical monuments, while three have been removed.

"We tore out about 900 tonnes of steel and were left with huge craters in the floor," says Thorrud.

Svein Thorrud

New plant inside the old

Inside the giant machine room, where one of the decommissioned generators once stood, Statkraft's newest power plant, Fykanvatnet has been established.

"It opened officially last year but has been in operation since 2013," says Thorrud. "It is a separate power plant because it gets its water from Fykanvatnet, while the old generator uses Nedre Naver as its reservoir."

Old archive photo

Ole W. Lund was one of the founders who began construction of the Glomfjord power plant in 1912. His son Bernt Lund was operations manager here for his entire working life, as well as a keen amateur photographer. Here he is seen looking over the Glomfjord fjord during the construction of the pipe trench. The picture was taken either by his wife Astrid or with the help of a self-timer device.

What both power plants have in common is that the water is put to work twice.

"First we produce electricity, and then the water is pumped into the world's largest salmon hatchery, owned by Marine Harvest and located here in Glomfjord."

The power plant and the small community at the head of Glomfjorden still rely on each other.

Text: Sissel Fantoft
Photo: Jimmy Linus
Also published in Statkraft's magazine People & Power no. 1/2015

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War monument
Inside the machine hall

Glomfjord pipelines
Cable car