Reconstruction and major new developments

Once World War II is over, rebuilding of the country begins in earnest – with hydropower as the most important resource. Major new power plant developments will provide energy to large-scale industries that can provide the country with badly needed export income.

After the war, the state took over a number of the major power plants that the German occupying forces had built or begun building. Plants such as Mår in Rjukan and Tyin in Årdal were quickly completed to ensure a power supply for the important export products fertilizer and aluminium respectively.

From 1950 to 1960 the state constructed large hydropower plants across the country. Here are three of the biggest:  

  • Aura power plant in Møre and Romsdal County was opened in 1953 after eight years of construction, to supply power for aluminium production in Sunndal. The aluminium plant was built with funds from the Marshall Plan, which the United States launched in 1947 to support the reconstruction of post war Europe.
  • The Røssåga plants in Nordland were completed in 1958 with the goal of producing power for industrial development in the region, including the Norwegian Ironworks in Mo i Rana.
  • Tokke power plant in Telemark was opened in 1961. With its vast size, Tokke was a symbol of the engineering feats Norway could achieve. The water feeding tunnels are up to 75 meters wide and there was a total of 15 dams constructed. The power plant cost NOK 1 billion, but quickly became profitable.

The power-intensive industries provided jobs and foreign exchange income. Hydropower became the family silver that made major investment in industry possible, and the state ensured an abundant supply of affordable power for metallurgical and electrochemical industrial production.

Up until this point the large power stations had been built as monumental cathedrals with magnificent architecture, towering in their landscapes of waterfalls and rivers. From the 1950s, the plants were hidden inside the mountains. This change represented tremendous technology developments and advanced engineering.