22. 5. 2018
The most senior state
representatives, including the prime minister of the Republic of Slovenia and
the Minister of Infrastructure, as well as representatives of power companies,
members of the HSE group, local communities and other invitees gathered in the
premises of the so-called "old engine room" to mark the 100th
anniversary of the operation of the oldest major and still operating hydro
power plant in Slovenia - the Fala Hydro Power Plant.
Drava River, which is the home to eight hydro power plants operated by the
company Dravske elektrarne Maribor, which provide more than a quarter of the
electricity in Slovenia, used to be very different – quick and torrential.
Rafting developed on the river in the 13th century, and the practice continued
until the mid-20th century, more precisely April 1941, when it was stopped by
the Second World War. Between the two World Wars, the river was a major rafting
transport route in the Drava and Danube basins and further on towards the Black
28 September 1912, a concession was awarded to the engineering company Albert
Buss of Graz, owned by Karl Scherbaum, and to a machine factory in Leobersdorf
near Vienna, and in 1913, when the legal successor of the concessionaires, the
company Steiermärkische Elektrizität-Gesellschaft (StEG for short) from Graz,
joined the project, the construction of the power plant started. Because of the
importance of the aforementioned practice of rafting on the Drava River, the
builders were instructed that the rafts must be allowed to pass the power
plant, which is why a raft lock was constructed along with a fish ladder. While
the Fala was the only power plant on the Drava River, up to twenty rafts
carrying 90 to 100 cubic metres of timber were travelling down the river daily
between the spring and early autumn.
such a facility was a great engineering achievement, which is why Swiss
companies, which had the most experience in hydro power plant construction,
were entrusted with the design and management of the project. The builder - the
company StEG – secured the necessary capital from Swiss banks, while a majority
of the installed equipment was also produced in Switzerland.
construction started in 1913, it was halted at the beginning of 1915 due to the
First World War. It was resumed in the autumn of the same year, as there was a
great need for electricity for military production in the nitrogen plant in
Ruše. Prisoners of war from Russia and Italy were used as the labour force for
6 May 1918, the first three generators were launched, followed by the fourth on
9 May and the fifth on 23 May. The power plant, which was originally designed
to power the industrial basin of the Central Styria with Graz as its centre,
with the original plans being thwarted by the breakdown of the Austro-Hungarian
Empire and new state borders, thus produced its first kilowatt hours of
electricity on the Drava River just before the end of the First World War to
pave the way for all subsequent power plants on the river. The sixth generator
was launched in 1925 and the seventh in 1931.
the period between the two World Wars, the Fala Hydro Power Plant had a great
national and economic importance, as it facilitated the industrialisation of
the Maribor area, while also supplying electricity to a greater area, all the
way to Prekmurje and the Croatian region of Zagorje. Even during the Second
World War, the power plant operated regularly and, together with the power
supply network and the Velenje and Trbovlje thermal power plants, it was
confiscated and merged with the company EVSÜD, which was established by the
occupying forces and seated in Maribor.
the liberation, the hydro power plant was nationalised and included in the
emerging power system in Slovenia, which was created with the construction of a
110-kilovolt network. In later years, the power plant changed its legal form
several times – it was a part of a joint company and an independent company –
to be again merged in 1961 into Dravske elektrarna Maribor, as part of which it
still operates today.
installation of the eighth generator in the first sluice began in 1974 and it
started operating three years later. An overhaul of the power plant, the
construction of a new engine room and procedures to install the ninth and tenth
generators in the raft lock and fish ladder started in 1986. Generators one to
three were decommissioned in 1990, followed by generators four and five a year
later. Generators nine and ten started operating in the same year.
active production in the old engine room was abandoned and the oldest generators
were decommissioned, the situation provided opportunities for a different use.
Dravske elektrarne Maribor decided to present the history of the facility in
the historical part of the power plant and arrange a room that will serve as a
museum. The overhaul allowed for the preservation and presentation of one of
the most important monuments to architectural heritage in Slovenia in the 20th
in 1986, the Fala Hydro Power Plant had been declared a technical monument of
local importance for its technical and architectural features, while in 2008 it
was declared a cultural monument of national importance by government decree.
oldest hydro power plant on the Slovenian part of the Drava River operates with
three generators. Following the overhaul it is remotely-operated and is one of
the most advanced hydro power plants in the country, producing around 260 GWh
of electricity a year. During its entire history it has produced almost 19,400
GWh of electricity, which equals around a year and a half of the entire current
electricity consumption in Slovenia.
The prime minister of the
Republic of Slovenia, Miro Cerar, said at the ceremony: "Today we take for
granted that we can enjoy an undisturbed supply of electricity. But it is only
130 years since the first light bulb in Slovenia was lit and we started to
establish the foundations of the modern power supply system in Slovenia. The
Fala Hydro Power Plant is one of the first and oldest power plants in Slovenia.
As I was reading about the Fala Hydro Power Plant, what stuck in my mind is the
interesting fact that its construction took place almost entirely during the
maelstrom of the First World War. Construction in such a demanding period is
the proof of how important electricity already was in those times. Today,
electricity supply reliability is a key condition for the provision of services
which enable functionality and life in modern society. Without electricity,
life as we know it is practically impossible. The Fala Hydro Power Plant still plays
an important role in the power supply of this region. The 100th
anniversary of its operation is a special recognition for all who worked in the
power plant and used their knowledge and commitment to make sure that it
functions smoothly, while also passing their knowledge to future generations.
After all, its historical value makes the Fala Hydro Power Plant an important
facility information- and education-wise. This is why I am particularly happy
that the Fala Power Plant Museum has been declared a cultural monument of
national importance. Your retired employees took over the management of the
museum. They feel that this role is their mission, commitment and affiliation
to the company and the energy sector as a whole. I will take this opportunity
to express my gratitude for what they are doing. My sincere congratulations to
all of you and may the Fala Hydro Power Plant operate successfully for another
Director General of Holding
Slovenske elektrarne Matjaž Marovt: "The
decision to build the Fala Hydro Power Plant one hundred years ago was a brave
and far-sighted act of our predecessors. They dared to build a power plant
during the times when people were barely getting used to light bulbs and
lighting. What our predecessors did back then is a good example for the present
time. Today we consume more electricity than we produce in our power plants,
while we don't dare to make a decision to build new power plants of which our
descendants would be proud in one hundred years, like we are proud of the Fala
Hydro Power Plant today."
Jurij Lep, the mayor of the Selnica ob Dravi
Municipality, said that "We as a
local community are proud of the historical facts, as the construction of the
power plant greatly influenced the development of our area. Without it, we
would certainly find it harder to advance and develop our municipality. Many
people moved here because of job opportunities, factories and apartments were
built, and many found a permanent home in this area and started their families.
It is therefore right that the Selnica ob Dravi Municipality marks 23 May as
its holiday. On this day we always remember the year 1918, when the first light
bulb powered by the electricity produced in the Fala Hydro Power Plant was lit
in our area."
Andrej Tumpej, the director of Dravske elektrarne Maribor stressed
that "There is no production
facility in Slovenia at the moment which carries such a weight as the Fala
Power Plant bore at the beginning of its operation. It still carries it today,
as it still contributes around ten percent of the total electricity produced by
the company", and added that he was convinced "That we are not celebrating its last major anniversary
Additional information: Majna Šilih, head of
Public Relations Department of DEM; firstname.lastname@example.org