The Dnipro Hydroelectric Station (DniproHES) is the largest and oldest hydroelectric power plant in Ukraine, the 5th stage of cascades on the Dnipro River. It is in Zaporizhzhia and supplies electricity not only to that city, but to the entire surrounding industrial region – huge metallurgical, chemical, and machinery plants.
In the late 1920s, industrialization began in the USSR, transforming the mostly agrarian nation into a modern industrial one. DniproHES, with the first stage of construction in 1927-1932, provided not only electricity but also end-to-end navigation along the entire length of Dnipro, as the river’s water level was significantly raised. Alas, about 15,000 hectares (37,000 acres) of land was flooded, along with many houses, and the residents were forcefully relocated.
The station’s first generators were supplied by American companies General Electric and Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. They started working on May 1, 1932; at the grand opening, electric garlands were lit, forming the name LENIN above the station. In 1939, DniproHES reached a capacity of 560 MW, becoming the third most powerful of all existing power plants (after the American Hoover Dam – 705 MW, and Wilson Dam – 663 MW). Even so, the cost of one kilowatt-hour of electricity generated at the station was the lowest in the world.
In 1939, DniproHES reached a capacity of 560 MW.
At the beginning of World War II, the DniproHES dam was blown up by the retreating Soviet troops, and a 30-m (100-ft) wave crashed through the breach, sweeping away everything in its path. According to some historians, from 20,000 to 30,000 Soviet citizens and about 1,500 German occupants were killed. By the summer of 1942, the Germans had restored the dam, replacing some of the destroyed equipment with items delivered from Germany. But a year later, when Soviet troops attacked, it was partially blown up again. During post-war reconstruction, about 100 tons of explosive devices and materials were extracted from the dam.
Today, DniproHES has a capacity of 1,548 kW, more than 300 workers, and a picturesque view of the dam, especially in the evening when the station is lit by a multitude of lights.
This article was published in the book Interesting Ukraine.
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© Sky Horse Publishing House (Kyiv) / Nahs Haus, 2019
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