When you drive along the coast of Norway, you see a lot of waterfalls. And you are struck by the obvious thought that this is power: Electrical power. When you are driving from one pine tree to another between Jokkmokk and Gällivare it is not the first thing you can think of. However, in Porjus you find another gem of the Arctic: A powerful statement of industry and toughness in the heart of the Arctic.
The old Vattenfall plant in Porjus is easily passed by travelers. The fantastic presentation Angelo and I were given by Ms. Christina Martinsson at the plant is easily worth more than one blog post. The old turbine chamber is cut open, and provides a revealing look into the inner workings of the production.
When the power plant was built in the beginning of the 20th century it became one of the largest of its kind in Europe. It was the northernmost, and instrumental to propel mining and industrial activity in the north. And it was the first in the world to extract power from waterfall (Vattenfall in Swedish) 50 meters below ground level.
It was a showpiece yesterday as it is a showpiece today. The old control room was done in marble, green marble from the north and white marble from Italy. Marble was chosen for its durability, insulating capacity and exclusivity. It was meant to impress, to promote Sweden as a technologically advanced country and a country of importance.
The old power plant was producing electricity between 1915 and 1975. In 1928, Sweden switched from 12 hours to 24 hours. Proof of this hangs on the wall in the control room. It was important to keep a detailed log of the activity and the new clock system was tricky for the employees.
So, the mechanical shop in Porjus created a clock face with the numbers 13 to 24. The workers in the control room were less confused and the work at the plant went like clockwork. It was a different time, a different world with different challenges. The second blog post from the power plant in Porjus includes the amazing feat Emil Åkerlund did on his feet.
Have you been to other power plants in the Arctic?
For the First Time in the World – 50 Meters Below Ground