The Porozhskaya hydroelectric power plant is the oldest functional power plant in Russia. Last year it celebrated a centenary of trouble-free operation and has unique destiny like many other things in our country.
The place is hardly inhabited today. Only two small villages with 30 people are located nearby. But 100 years ago there was a huge modern metallurgic plant with best specialists working for it.
It was designed by Boris Bakhmetiev, a renowned engineer who graduated from the St Petersburg Railway Institute and went on to become a Professor at the St Petersburg Polytechnic Institute and subsequently at Columbia University. This historical monument named Porogi was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993.
In spite of the fact the complex has never seen reconstruction, its condition is perfect. Unfortunately, the plant itself that used electric arc furnaces couldn’t survive.
Arc furnaces are considered as the most functional devices even today. Later the plant became a part of a giant enterprise Magnesite. Its operation was closed down in the end of 90s due to unprofitability.
Luckily the enterprise wasn’t let to turn into historical ruins.
There was a workshop that time that could run 32 thousand tones of ferro-alloys a year whereas this very plant never produced more than 400 tones a year and was still included into the complex to prevent spoliation.
The city has no money to support the old enterprise. Around 26000 USD a year taken from the revenue of the local hotel is spent to make it live.
It has 8 overflow spillways supplied with control gates of different types. Every crane operate using muscular energy because electric energy was spent on lightening main industrial enterprises and electrolysis.
The cranes were purchased in Birmingham.
The dam is not in good working condition as the wooden panels are alternating and are all rotten.
Let’s examine the ancient mechanisms.
Only two turbines out of 3 available can operate till now. Even one turbine can handle the needs of two villages and the hotel. Electricity is free here but its availability depends on water supply. If there is no water you won’t see any electricity.
The plant is operated manually and one engine operator is always on duty.
This appliance that used to regulate rotation frequency of the turbine is not functional any more.
The biggest turbine uses too much water and was put out of operation due to that.
The equipment is very reliable though and doesn’t require any repairs for many years.
Let’s examine the details.
Automatic speed regulator.
The charming ladies make days of mechanics on duty brighter.
Spare parts and water are stored in the basement.
The tubes have never been replaced and are marked with holes all over the place.
The intake pipe. Thanks to Russian enthusiasts the death of the plant was postponed. But the state support is needed to carry out capital repair. The museum is of greater interest because it is in working condition. Anyone would feel like touching mechanisms that has been operating for 100 years and never broke.
Location: Chelyabinsk region