Power Plant Conversions, Museums & Historical Sites in Europe
Bankside (England)
One of the notable landmarks in London is Bankside Power Station, now converted into the Tate Modern art gallery the preeminent commercial power plant conversion in the world. The power plant was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, also the architect of the iconic Battersea Power Station, and built in two phases between 1947 and 1963. The western half of the structure, which included the chimney, replaced an earlier coal-fired power station in 1952. The eastern half of the building was brought into commission in 1963. The power station was closed in 1981 and remained unoccupied until 1994, although a London Electricity substation has remained in operation throughout the period. The steel structure was clad with more than 4.2mn bricks and the central stack is 99m tall, just lower than the dome of St Paul's Cathedral. The building extends for 200m on the south bank of the Thames.

In August 1994, the Tate began a competition to select architects who would transform Bankside into a modern art gallery. The Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron was selected and completed the conversion in 2002, retaining much of the original design. The most noticeable exterior addition is a two-story glass structure which provides natural light for the galleries.

Photograph by Christopher Bell
Posted 26 Mar 2003

Battersea (England)
The Battersea Power Station building designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott is one of the most famous landmarks in the power business. Battersea-A was completed in 1933 and Battersea-B was completed in 1953. Each coal-fired section had one turbine hall and two chimneys and was an important component of the electric power supply system serving London for decades. Battersea was taken out of service by the Central Electricity Generating Board in 1982 and plans for its redevelopment began almost immediately.

In 1984, a competition was organized to determine future use and this was won by a consortium with proposals for an indoor theme park. Planning approval was secured in 1986 and demolition and decontamination programs were completed. Some foundation work began, but funding ran out in 1989 and the project could not proceed. Parkview purchased the outstanding loans from the banks in 1993 and following resolution of complex creditors claims, the freehold title was acquired in May 1996. In November 1996 Parkview submitted plans for the redevelopment of the Battersea Power Station Site and received outline consent in May 1997. Detailed planning consent for the majority of the site was granted in August 2000 and the remainder, in May 2001. To date, construction is not underway.

Photograph by Christopher Bell
Posted 12 Jul 2003

Cedegolo (Italy)
The Museo dell' Energia Idroelettrica is housed in the main buildings of the former Cedegolo hydroelctric power station at Via Roma 48 in Cedegolo, Val Camonica, Brescia. These were largely designed by ing Egidio Dabbeni. The museum describes the construction and operation of dams and hydroelectric works using models, preserved HPP mechanical components, documentaries and art shortfilms, and other informational materials. Of particular note in the collections are materials relating to Italy's lage-scale construction of reservoirs, pipelines, canals and water works, often undertaken at high altitude. The original power station was built beginning in 1909 by Societа Elettrica Bresciana on the Ogilo River. The project completed in Jan 1910 with five 4500-hp turbines. A 125km, 60kV transmission line was built to evacuate power from the Cedegolo and Isola HPPs to Milan. The plant passed to Enel SpA with the mass nationalization of the Itlaian electricity system and was closed shortly thereafter in Jun 1962. Thereafter, the main building was used for storage purposes until Sep 2000 when Comune di Cedegolo bought the property from Enel and proceeded to develop the hydroelectric museum. In Jun 2003, the municipality launched a competition for the conversion and a team led by Claudio Gasparotti was selected for the work. The budget was €2.86mn.

Photograph courtesy of Museo dell' Energia Idroelettrica
Posted 23 Oct 2015

Chinon A1 (France)
Chinon-A1 was a 70-MW gas-cooled reactor similar to the Magnox plants built in the UK. It was the first EDF reactor. Construction started in Feb 1957 and the unit commissioned in Feb 1964. It operated until Apr 1973, generating electricity for the grid and operating as a test bed for various R&D activities including plutonium production. Two follow-on GCRs at the site have been mostly demolished. The A1 unit, commonly referred to as La Boule, was partially dismantled to Level 1 clearance and the core confined in a steel-concrete envelope. It is now the Musée de l'Atome run by the French nuclear agency CEA.

Photograph courtesy of Pays du Chinonais
Posted 21 Feb 2010

Hirschfelde (Germany)
This building represents part of the Hirschflde power starion in Zittu, Sachsen, not far from the Polish border. Kraftwerk Hirschfelde was in continuous operation from 1911 to 1992 reaching a maximum capacity of 330 MW in 1961. At various times, the plant was part of Direktion der staatlichen Elektrizitätswerke (ELDIR), Aktiengesellschaft Sächsische Werke (ASW), and, finally, Vereinigten Energiewerke AG (VEAG). Unit-4 (40 MW) reachd 410,252 operating hours and and was in operation from 1929-1992.Fuel was brown coal from Lausitzer. In the early 1990s, the Phase-II turbine hall was preserved with some of the generatig equipment as a techincal musum run by Stiftung Kraftwerk Hirschfelde.

Photograph by Karsten Schiller (Panoramio)
Posted 1 Apr 2012

Karoline (Germany)
This facade is the only surviving remnant of Hamburg's Karoline power station. The first electricity operations at the site on Karolinenstraße date to 1894 when Hamburgischen Elektricitätswerke (later HEW and now part of Vattenfall) commissioned engineer and architecht Albert Winkler to build a power station with equipment from Schukert & Co. From about 1930 to about 1960, Karoline was regularly extended and an important source of traction power and local district heating. Finally, the plant was retired in 1988 and most of its buildings demolished and equipment scrapped. For a time, some of the generating equipment and associated structures were retained, but ultimately, these were not able to be preserved. The facade of the administration building was, however, restored and incorporated into the Hamburg Messe & Congress convention center.

Photograph by Staro1 (wikipedia)
Posted 1 May 2010

Neuchâtel (Switzerland)
The Neuchatel gas turbine is considered the first successful power generating machine of its kind. it was built by Brown Boveri in 1938 and maintained in operative condition by Service Industriels de la Ville de Neuchâtel until 18 Aug 2002 when it was finally shut-down due to a damaged generator. The gas turbine had a power output of 4 MW at generator terminals, a thermal efficiency of 17.4%, and 1,908 starts in its 63yr of service. In 1988, ASME International (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) designated the Neuchâtel gas turbine a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. In 1995, Neuchâtel GT was found to be in "excellent condition" during a service inspection. After the machine was taken out of service, Alstom acquired the equipment in 2005 and reconstructed it in a new purpose-built display at the their R&D works in Birr. The ASME re-designated this landmark in its new location on 4 Jun 2007. [Photo and data from a brochure "The World‘s First Industrial Gas Turbine Set – GT Neuchâtel" prepared by Septimus van der Linden, then of ABB Energy Services Inc, and published by Alstom in Jun 2007 for the ASME re-designation.]

Photograph courtesy of Alstom
Posted 11 Oct 2008

Plessa (Germany)
This lignite-fired power plant in Germany opened in 1927 after only 12mos of construction. The plant was periodically extended until 1942. It had three or four generating units at various times reaching a maximum capacity of 54 MW. The facility has been preserved as a museum in largely intact condition. Lignite mining in the area started around 1855.

Photograph courtesy of www.kraftwerk-plessa.de
Posted 27 Jul 2005

Tejo (Portugal)
Lisbon's Museu da Electricidade opened in May 2006 in the 60-MW Tejo power station, one of Lisbon's architectural landmarks located in the historic Belem district. The new plant replaced the small Junqueira plant built on the same site in 1908 which supplied Lisbon with electricity for ten years. In 1919, the first 6.75-MW unit at Tejo came online burning coal unloaded at quays along the Tagus. The plant operated until 1976 with high-pressure Babcock & Wilcox boilers retrofit in 1941 to drive existing AEG turbine-generator sets.
The main part of the permanent exhibition is some of the original thermoelectric equipment. There are also exhibits on different energy sources, with particular focus on renewable energies, displays on the scientists who contributed most to the discovery and development of electricity, models and diagrams of electric power system components, and hands-on displays.

Photograph courtesy of EDP Energias de Portugal
Posted 17 Feb 2007

Toppstodin (Iceland)
This power station is Elloaar valley in Reykjavik was bulit right after World War II and went online in Apr 1948 as a coal-fired reserve power station for Reykjavik and vicinity. Funding was from the Marshall Plan and Landsvirkjun was the operating company and the utility plus Reykjavik Energy  are still owners of the property. The facility was kept in place until 1988, when it was closed and abandoned. A single 7.5-MW steam set was installed and put into reserve around 1969 when the Burfell HPP was finished. The machinery was retired in place as the cost of demolition was very high. Beginning in late 2008, the building was transformed into a artist's and economic activists collective with large working and exhibit areas. The owners supply the building rent free.

Photograph courtesy of grist.org
Posted 7 Sep 2015

Tres Xemeneies (Spain)
This is the popular name of the remnants of Barcelona's first large-scale central power station built by AEG for Sociedad Española de Electricidad in 1896/97 and expanded subsequently. Eventually, the site was redeveloped as the headquarters building of regional Spanish power company Fecsa, now part of Endesa. The three stacks were maintained as part of the office complex and are a distinctive local landmark.

Photograph by Jaume Meneses (flickr)
Posted 20 Jul 2008

Vermork (Norway)
The 60-MW Vemork power station at the Rjukan waterfall in Telemark was the world's largest power plant when it opened in 1911 after six years of construction. The project was so expensive that the works had to be financed by overseas sources. The plant became the corporate precursor to Norsk Hydro. Ten 6-MW T/G sets were supplied by Voith and AEG (Units 1-5) and Escher Wyss and Oerlikon (Units 6-10).
After being taken out of service, the facility was converted into the Norsk Industriarbeidermuseum which, among other things, portrays the area's history before and during World War II. In 1934, Norsk Hydro built the first commercial heavy water plant with a capacity of 12 tons per year at Vemork. During World War II, the Allies decided to destroy the heavy water plant in order to inhibit Nazi development of nuclear weapons. In late 1942, a raid by British paratroopers failed when the gliders crashed and all the raiders were killed in the crash or shot by the Gestapo. In 1943, a team of British-trained Norwegian commandos succeeded in a second attempt at destroying the production facility in what is considered to be one of the most important Allied acts of sabotage of the war.

Photograph by Knut Jacobsen and courtesy of www.telemarksnett.no
Posted 17 Sep 2005

Data: industcards

Updated 11-Dec-2015

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