In 1902, Sam Eyde, who founded Hydro with Kristian Birkeland, bought the whole waterfall, before others had given the idea any thought.
In collaboration with Birkeland, a scientist, he discovered in 1903 how nitrogen in the air could be used to make fertilizer.
The arc furnace they constructed has been named the greatest-ever invention made in Norway. Hydro's patent number one. It was the start of an industry that has saved millions of people from starvation.
As a student in Germany, Eyde had wandered in and out of Werner von Siemens’ home.
It was hardly possible to get closer to the embodiment of the second industrial revolution. The Norwegian engineer was very much inspired.
He wanted to build a power plant. He wanted to raise an industry. But what was he going to produce? Up there in the mountains. Far away from ports, roads, everything. Many ideas were thrown on the table.
Aluminium was a possibility, as its production demands a lot of energy. But what about the raw materials? Bauxite, alumina. They were from far, far away.
The answer turned to nitrogen, taken out of the air. Electrical energy was to turn air into food, so to speak.
At Notodden, the founders harnessed enough power to test new ideas in practice. There they eyed another waterfall.
Svelgfoss. It’s said to be Hydro’s best investment ever.
The construction of the Svelgfoss power station started in 1905, the year Hydro was created. Europe’s largest power plant delivered its first kilowatts in 1907. Then began the construction of the world's largest hydropower plant – Vemork.
It was not just gigantic. It was very innovative, yielding renewable power.
Power became fertilizer became food – and gave life to millions.
The technological change of the post-war years brought fertilizer production into the oil age. Hydropower found its way to light metals. First magnesium, then aluminum. With the investment in Karmøy, in western Norway, the Røldal-Suldal power operation joined the Hydro family. In Telemark, new power plants were added. Production fine-tuned. More competence in each kilowatt.
Today, Hydro is the third-largest operator of renewable energy in Norway. In addition, we have energy operations in many other countries, especially in Brazil and Germany.
Renewable energy in many different forms. Water, wind and sun.
Aluminum products make the world more energy efficient and with fewer climate emissions. A little greener – ‘Powered by Hydro’ – Powered by Energy.
Updated: July 26, 2021