Celebration deep within the mountainside
Mystery was in the air at Hydro's official opening of New Tyin power station on Thursday afternoon. Deep within the Jotunheimen mountains, Peer Gynt appeared in the form of the well-known Norwegian actor Kåre Conradi and other artists who ensured a splendid celebration of the largest power development in Norway for the last 10 years.
The turbine hall, 1.6 kilometers inside the mountain from Upper Årdal had been converted into an enormous concert hall for the occasion. The saxophonist Karl Seglem led the musicians in a magical performance with atmospheric lighting. Pianists, wind players and violinists made the most of the excellent acoustics and produced a memorable experience for the nearly 200 guests.
Kåre Conradi, playing the part of Peer Gynt, provided a fantastic introduction to the high point of the celebrations when Desiree Kongerød was lowered from high up under the ceiling, swathed in white, until she danced rather than lowered herself onto the stage.
Safely down, she handed over to executive vice president Tore Torvund, who is head of Hydro's oil and energy activities. He took the opportunity to remind the audience of the important role Tyin power plant has had for Hydro's industrial development in Årdal, ever since the first power station was completed in 1944.
At a press conference earlier in the day, he also pointed out that it was the power supply to the aluminium plant in Årdal that had been the main reason for Hydro's investment of NOK 1.3 billion in New Tyin.
The mayor of Årdal, Arild Ingar Lægreid, undertook the official opening. Like Torvund, he highlighted the importance the power plant has had - and will continue to have - for this industrial area.
"For me, this power plant is a guarantee that Hydro will be an important workplace in Årdal, also in the future," said Lægreid.
There were no ribbons to be cut on the stage. Instead of a symbolic ceremony, the mayor undertook a real start-up of the power plant, assisted by Tore Torvund. And this was perhaps the most magical moment of the whole opening: a few keystrokes on a laptop computer and the power plant was in operation. Water rushed down the tunnel from Torolmen, turning the turbine wheels, and electricity production was underway.
The first production from New Tyin had, of course, started on 1 October, but the guests watched a start-up procedure that can be carried out up to five times a day. Production is adapted to the market and can be closed down when demand and electricity prices are low.
With a growing consumption of electricity in Norway, there is little to indicate that the power station will stop the turbines for long at any time. And when 50 more years have passed, power production from New Tyin is likely to still be running.