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Author(s) of the publication: Olga BORISOVA

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by Olga BORISOVA, journalist

In 2007 the Central Museum of History of Water Power of Russia-first of such profile in the world-was opened in Uglich (Yaroslavl region).

This is a modern interactive information center for direct interaction with visitors: they bring into operation mock-ups, training simulators, schemes, models, monitors and other things.

And the whole automation here is based, naturally, on using electricity, which is symbolical: helps us get it with the most cheap and environmentally friendly way, energy of water.

It is not accidental that the first thing visitors see in the lobby is a huge silver-blue drop, with a reflection of the Earth in it.

The unique cultural-educational institution we are visiting is situated on the bank of the Volga, in the territory of Uglich hydro-electric power station in a two-storeyed building of Volgolag Administration*. In one and a half years there was reconstructed the first,

* Volgolag-Volzhsky corrective labor camp, existing in 1935-1944, where 15-20 percent of prisoners were "political". It was set up for the construction of Uglich and Rybinsk hydro-electric assemblies.--Ed.

second and basement floors for exhibition halls. As a result, owing to builders and creators' hard work, the museum complex is today one of the best in Russia. The prologue of the exposition, historically connected with the building, where it is located, is a fragment of the study of the chief of Volgolag--Yakov Rappoport: the original carved German made furniture (the cupboard, the writing-table, leather easy-chairs), scientific litera-

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ture, building documentation of Verkhnevolzhsky hydroelectric assemblies, drawings, a type-writer, a telephone set, pencils.

Since old times people knew--water is a source of life, and settled near springs or streams. More than 2,000 years ago they got to know how to use its energy--they built wheels on rivers, which were rotated by the pressure of streams and they, in their turn, set in motion different mechanisms (saws, blowers, etc.) and millstones, grinding grain into flour. Thus appeared water mills, spread everywhere in the Middle Ages, especially in monasteries (the model of such prototype of the hydroelectric power station is represented at the museum).

At the same time scientists conducted experiments to attempt advantageous use of electricity. At first, its sources had been galvanic elements, but in late 19th century they were replaced by generators, which gave impetus to the development of this type of energy. In 1873, in St. Petersburg in the Odessa street there were set up two experimental electric lights, first in the world, which delighted it citizens, and six years later such lamps decorated Liteiny prospekt of Northern Palmyra using lamps invented by the engineer Pavel Yablochkov. This invention provoked admiration in Europe and was named "Russian light."*

In 1886, a group of national industrialists and bankers established a financial syndicate, which engaged in lighting of St. Petersburg and Moscow, and put in action trams in both capital cities. By that time in St. Petersburg already for three years there had been functioning a device similar to a water mill (produced by German Company Siemens), which was mounted on the Moika and generated direct current to supply the lights of Nevsky prospekt. The four-turbine Berezovskaya (Zyryanovskaya) station is considered the first national hydro-electric power station, built in 1892 in Altai, on the Berezovka river (Bukhtarma inflow) for Zyryanovsky mine for extraction of polymetallic ores.

Works for electrification of national economy in the developed countries were going fast. However, electric

See: V. Lishevsky, "Russian Light", Science in Russia, No. 2, 1997.--Ed.

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incandescent lamps became popular all over the world only in 1891, when our electrical engineer Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky accomplished transfer of current with a capacity of 220 kW at an unprecedented at the time distance--175 km, thus proving the possibility of using remote power supply sources. As illustrations of that period of history of hydropower engineering are exposed photographs, written materials, working model of the part of Nevsky prospect of late 19th century: tram stop, lit by "Russian light".

The special section of the exhibition is devoted to the State Plan for Electrification of Russia (GOELRO). In 1920, the Government of the country adopted a resolution on realization of the most grandiose project at that time (from today's positions--one of the fundamental projects in the development of science and technology in the 20th century) elaborated by about 200 scientists, engineers and economists. According to that plan, 30 hydro-electric power stations with a total capacity of 1.5 mln kW were to be constructed by 1935, but this goal was reached three years earlier, and by the deadline thrice exceeded it.

In the museum you can see a mock-up of the first hydro-electric power station, built according to the electrification plan (GOELRO)-on the Volkhov (between Ladoga and Ilmen lakes in 1926), learn a lot about the life and work of the author of several of its sections and head of all works Gleb Krzhyzhanovsky (Academician from 1929, Vice-President of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1929-1939), about power engineers Henry Graftio, Alexander Winter, an economist and economic geographer Ivan Alexandrov (all three academicians from 1932), etc.

A significant part of the exhibition--documents, photos, models of sluices and other hydrotechnical objectsis related to the "hostess" of the museum building, Uglich hydro-electric power station, one of the oldest in the country, which is one of the main sights of the city*. Its construction began in 1935, five years later the first hydraulic aggregate and 220 kW were put into operation power lines Uglich-Moscow, and a year later--the second one, which played the major role in the energy supply of the country during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. Besides, the local pressure structures formed a reservoir, which provided navigation on the upper Volga.

The next stage of construction of Uglich and Rybinsk hydro-electric power stations fell on the years of Hitler's invasion, and the works went slowly. As a result, the certificate of commissioning of both hydro-electric assemblies was approved only in 1955. With their commissioning the previously scarce Moscow energy system became abundant, that allowed to transmit surplus electricity to the single "money-box", forming for the needs of the entire European part of the country. At present, a full-scale reconstruction is underway at the hydro-electric power station, we are visiting, particularly, replacement of the obsolete equipment, including hydro-generators and a turbine (its predecessor is installed on the platform near the museum as an exhibit).

Works for putting into operation Uglich and Rybinsk hydro-electric power stations were carried out with an extensive use of prisoners' labor from Volgolag. This dreary page of electrification of the country is presented at the Hall of Memory. Here you can see maps of areas of the country with marked places of dislocation of corrective institutions, original documents with the stamp of the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs received from the archives of the Upper Volga hydroelectric systems. There are also presented household items, tools, food rations, photo of prisoners, a model of the camp for prisoners, a fragment of its interior.

Just then the "golden age" of hydropower engineering began in our country. In 1940, domestic hydro-electric power stations generated more than 50 bin kW/h of electricity, i.e. 25 times higher than in 1913, 10 years later--90 bin kW/h, and by mid-1960s the USSR was second in the world in generating of electricity after the United States. These and many other things are reflected in schemes, plans, multimedia screens vivified by a guide (using all kinds of information-texts, drawings, speech, music, fragments of documentaries, animation, etc.).

Especially interesting are acting models: visitors of the museum can watch how by means of the shaft crane the equipment at the Saratov hydro-electric power station is replaced, can observe testing of a new hydro-electric

* See: O. Bazanova, "Tsarevich Dmitry's Town", Science in Russia, No. 4, 2008.--Ed.

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aggregate, which is carried out by a special device (donated by the Moscow Institute Gidroproekt), see all phases of the passage of vessels through sluices. And in the stereo hall, wearing special glasses, you can take a virtual tour of the territory of a power station, including a machine hall, earthen and waste-gate dams, sluices, and even get into her "heart"--the turbine. By the way, it is shown very clearly, what is in fact one kilowatt of energy generated by it: a TV set, microwave oven, iron, fan, floor lamp are operating simultaneously in the course of 40 seconds. One can also see an exercise bike there. By turning its pedals the mechanical force is converted into electrical current.

Here you can also get acquainted with unique HEPSs of the planet: the only national tidal in Kislogubskaya HEPS (1968) in Kislaya guba of the Barents Sea, the most powerful in Russia Sayano-Shushenskaya HEPS (2000) on the Yenisei river, Brazilian "Itaipu" (2007) on the Parana river, which is the largest electricity producer in the world, and many others. In addition, visitors make a virtual trip in the branches of the museum, created on Zhigulevskaya (1957), Volga (1961), Saratov (1971) and other hydro-electric power stations of the Volga-Kama basin.

Many countries, including the USA, Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand, the lion's share of their needs in electricity provide at the expense of HEPS. As the Earth has very large reserves of water--the most renewable energy source, which allows to store hydrocarbon reserves. Finally, hydropower engineering helps us to solve problems such as the organization of water supply, navigation, irrigation of agricultural projects, fish farming, regulation of river flow. And the wonderful Uglich Museum gives us a whole spectrum of information about water, its work for the benefit of man. It is not accidental that this interactive center was highly appreciated by members of the International Commission on Large Dams, who visited it in 2007 (non-governmental organization with headquarters in Paris, founded in 1928)--the most prestigious organization in this field, uniting leading scholars and practitioners, which generalizes the world dam construction experience in order to promote efficient use of water resources.


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