Hønefossen – the origin of the town?
Hønefossen waterfall has been essential to settlement in the area and the development of the town. The first industrial activity was the watermill, which dates all the way back to 1337. In the 1500s came the sawmills, which over the years grew into a large-scale industry. Hence, it was around the waterfall that most people lived and worked. Hønefossen has played a key role in the development and prosperity of Hønefoss from early on.
In 1893, it was decided that the power from Hønefoss Brug was to be used for as many as 36 streetlamps that would light the most central parts of town. Hønefoss Brug continued to grow, and later became Hønefoss' largest company with a workforce of 300 people. After the First World War, the market took a hit and the export of wood pulp fell sharply.
From 1920 until today
The town’s first public power plant was put into operation in 1920. In 1936, the wood-pulp grinding activity ended, and since then the waterfall has only been used for energy production. The demand for power increased as the years went by, and in 1977 the Hønefoss II plant stood ready to produce clean hydroelectric energy.
This power-plant development was completed in 1978, and at the same time a requirement for minimum water flow in the waterfall throughout the year was introduced. This is set at 9 m3/s, which is 10% of the average water flow at Hønefossen, and has minimal visual and audible effect on the waterfall. Following a local initiative, the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) decided that the annual minimum water-flow requirement should be in place during the summer season.
This increases the water level and provides a visually more attractive waterfall in summer, and thus leaves the town with a drier waterfall during winter. The minimum water-flow requirement means that approx. 80 million m3 water is led past the power plant, something that represents approx. 15 million kilowatt hours. Enough renewable energy for 1000 private homes.
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