Hammerfest was the first town in Northern Europe to get electricity. It lasted an hour. Then there was a blackout for a year before the lights came back. Today, Norway’s energy supply is barely imaginable without hydropower, wind power, tidal power, and oil and gas from Hammerfest and West Finnmark. Energihuset in Hammerfest brings you the dynamic story of Norwegian energy.
In 1891, Hammerfest was the very first town in Northern Europe to have electricity. It lasted for one hour, and then the electricity cables froze. It took a year to insulate all the cables before the lights could be turned back on again. So Hammerfest is a pioneering town with long experience of supplying energy. Energihuset, a modern energy science centre housed in a hydropower plant dating from 1946, demonstrates that the Hammerfest area is also quite literally an energetic centre for advancement of the energy supply in the far north of Norway.
Energihuset was built rose from the ashes of war
The hydro-electric power plant where Energihuset is located was built in 1946 as part of the reconstruction of Hammerfest after World War II. The plant is still functioning, although it now covers only 10% of Hammerfest’s energy requirement. The water comes from the small lakes above the town, generates electricity in the plant and then flows out to sea. You can see all this process inside Energihuset.
Tidal power is now more important than ever
Kvalsundet, the sound which runs between the island on which Hammerfest is built and the mainland, has a strong tidal current. Hammerfest Energi, the local electricity company, has developed a turbine that utilises the energy in the tidal current. This example of Hammerfest technology has now been exported to Scotland, where the potential for generating tidal power in the narrow straits between the Scottish islands is even greater.
The most northerly wind farm in the World is located in Hammerfest
On Mount Havøygavlen, which protects the fishing village of Havøysund against the winter storms, stand 16 wind turbines in what is the most northerly wind farm in the world. The open landscape on the coast of Finnmark is ideal for generating wind power; the only limitations lie in the transmission capacity to electricity consumers far away from Finnmark.
The snow white natural gas field lies close to Hammerfest
What characterises Hammerfest today more than anything else, is the oil and gas industry. From the Snøhvit (Snow White) field, 140 kilometres northwest of Hammerfest, natural gas is piped to the island of Melkøya, where it is cooled to a temperature of minus 163 degrees Celsius. As compressed or liquefied natural gas, the gas is then collected every five days by custom-built tanker and transported from Hammerfest to the global market.
It’s only the start of an oil era in Hammerfest
The Goliat oil field, which is even closer to Hammerfest than Snøhvit, has also just come on stream. The oil industry in Hammerfest is as yet in its infancy, and the discoveries at Lopparyggen a little further north are opening up for even more activity.
Energy efficiency is vital in the north
The winter darkness and freezing temperatures turn Norwegian homes into major electricity consumers. A small exhibition on the theme of energy efficiency shows how house insulation has developed from nothing more than a pocket of air between the inner and outer wall, via glass mineral wool insulation, to the highly energy-efficient “Passive House” of today, which barely lets any heat escape.
Visit Energihuset to see how a hydroplant works
Energihuset consists of the hydropower plant itself, which is from 1946. This simple and now outdated plant shows in an easily comprehensible way how electricity is generated from running water. Simple, clearly set out exhibits tell the story of other sources of energy, too. Energihuset is open to visitors during the daily sightseeing tour in Hammerfest in the summer months. At other times of the year, visitors should enquire at the Tourist Information Office.
For all the information you need about Hammerfest from dining to accommodation to experience simply check out the Visit Hammerfest webpage.