“It is particularly gratifying that the work could be carried out safely and without accidents at work. That makes us proud, ”explains Pål Thorud, head of the power plants in the Telemark district of Norway.
“At times over 500 people worked on the project at the same time. In the summer of 2014 alone, modernization work was carried out on 22 different plants between Møsvatn and Tinnsjøen. A total of 80 companies were involved, some of them from the surrounding area. The modernization project was led by Hydro's project organization.
Lots of new solutions and improvements
In total, we have carried out several hundred modernization and improvement measures as well as repairs to comply with official orders, improve safety and carry out preventive maintenance work and work to increase the profitability of the plants. We believed that repairs to the individual plants in succession would have wasted significant amounts of water. Therefore, the five plants were modernized at the same time. The optimal solution was a repair work that was carried out at the same time as possible and a subsequent, quickest possible commissioning of the plants. The work was so extensive that we had to spread the biggest chores over two years, which worked out well. Some parts of the production could be started several weeks earlier than planned in autumn. This alone saved us tens of millions of Norwegian kroner, ”says Pål Thorud.
The power plants produced as much energy as possible in the past winter and spring in order to compensate for the downtime caused by the modernization in summer. All in all, the work went better than expected, partly because summer 2014 was extremely dry in the rain field. However, due to large amounts of snow, the water from the Rjukan waterfall had to be drained freely for a few weeks instead of being routed through the pipes of the power plant.
A difficult operation
The company has reviewed the safety precautions of all reservoirs to comply with new government regulations, says Pål Thorud. The safety regulations for the Skarsfoss dam have been raised to the highest level due to the serious consequences of a possible dam break.
“When this work was done, we removed the 1961 reservoir, but we kept the original 1911 dam as a backup solution and will use it when maintenance work needs to be done on the new dam. This work was particularly difficult and placed the highest demands on operational safety and occupational and personal protection.
In addition, three new pools were built. After the safety approval granted by geologists, a large part of the rock cleaning was done in the old, tried and tested way using the crowbar and other manual working methods.
No work accidents
We are pleased that the intensive part of the work in the past year went without a single work accident, with absenteeism and without the need for medical treatment.
How can this be explained?
"Good risk control. The work risks were identified in advance and the knowledge kept up to date. Comprehensive, preventive measures were carried out and dangerous situations were systematically reported. As a manager, you have to put on the jumpsuit more often and go outside with your people. This gives you valuable knowledge, ”explains Pål Thorud.
In the meantime, the company has established the "Green Zone": Always think about how the work can be carried out safely. Never take the easy route and take risks.
"What is the best way to carry out such projects? What is the key to success? "
"It's just like work safety. You need the right people, they have to be able to see the tasks. You also have good local knowledge. We learned a lot from the project. We were there day in and day out and saw how everything was built and how it needs to be handled. That is why the project was an important impetus for Hydro Energy, ”says Pål Thorud.