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Dnieper Power Station

Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine
1 of 1Фабьен Prestige via Flickr

The Dnieper Hydroelectric Station (or DniproHES) is the largest hydroelectric power station in Ukraine and one of the largest in Europe. It is situated on the Dnieper River in Zaporizhzhia.

The earliest plans for a hydroelectric station date back to 1905, but plans for a dam to inundate the Dnieper Rapids and make the whole length of the river navigable had been made in the 19th century. One of the designs for a station was proposed by a Ukrainian engineer, Mohylko. The design that was acccepted dates back to the GOELRO electrification plan for the USSR, which was adopted shortly after the October Revolution of 1917.

The dam and its buildings were designed by the Constructivist architects Viktor Vesnin and Nikolai Kolli. Construction began in 1927 and was finished in 1932, creating the first hydroelectric plant in the Ukrainian SSR. Generating some 650 MW, the station became the largest Soviet power plant at the time. American specialists under the direction of Col H. Cooper took part in the construction. All the building machines and the first electrical equipment were imported from the United States.

During World War II, the strategically important dam and plant were partially destroyed by retreating Soviet troops in 1941, and then again by the retreating German troops in 1943. In the end the dam suffered extensive damage, and the powerhouse hall was nearly destroyed. Both were rebuilt between 1944 and 1949. Power generation was restarted in 1950. In 1969-80, the second powerhouse was built with a planned production capacity of 836 MW.

Currently, the dam is over 800 metres long and 61 metres high. When constructed it raised the level of the Dnieper by 37 metres, flooding the rapids above and making the entire Dnieper navigable. Over its long history, the dam was hailed as one of the biggest achievements of Soviet industrialization programs.

Today the dam has been privatized and continues to fuel the adjacent industrial complexes with an output of 3,64 billion kW hours. The pressure of the water leaving the dam is at 38,7 metres and the reservoir that is behind it is 33.3 cubic kilometres. The dam is also used by automobile traffic as it is the only second point in the city of Zaporizhia to cross the river.