Birsfelden hydroelectric power station
The Birsfelden hydroelectric power station (Rheinkraftwerk Birsfelden) in the canton of Basel-Landschaft was built in 1954. The first plans date from the last decades of the 19th century. At that time, however, there was no need for (clean) electrical energy. The alternatives (mainly coal, wood) were cheaper and widely available.
However, the Second World War caused an extraordinary increase in the electricity demand, and so the planning was set in motion. The architect Hans Hofmann developed the project, including the harbours and locks. The power station itself is more art than industry and has been a benchmark for industrial construction since then.
The project has also attractively included the Rhine banks in the overall concept. The fish ladders on both sides of the Rhine are of a more recent date. In any case, the salmon have returned.
With the construction of the locks and harbours, the Rhine above Basel is also accessible to large ships. It makes Basel the most important transport and port city in the country.
The power station has a low level of decay, which is however compensated by the enormous water volumes of the Rhine. Anyone who has seen the Rheinfall at Schaffhausen knows what flows at Birsfelden every second.
The energy covers about 17% of the total electricity consumption in the region of Basel. The power station is open to the public by appointment. (Source and further information: www.kw-birsfelden.ch).