Svartisen Hydropower project, northern Norway. 1987 - 1991

Catching the power of a Glacier. One of Norways largest hydropower projects. Production 2150 GWh. Costs US$ 450 mill.

Figure: The Robins TBM "Md Felle" diameter 7,5 meter, prepares the attack on the Svartisen (Black Ice) glacier winter 1988. The 7.5 km long head race tunnel is heading for the Storglomvann magazin on a 520 meter higher altitude. Starting point is in Kilvik power station area in Holandsfjord in the county of Meløy. Geology: granitic gneiss and micaschist. The construction period: The construction of a total of 100 km tunnels, an underground power station and 2 large underground sandtrap caverns took place between 1987 and 1992 in the counties of Rødøy, Meløy, Beiarn and Rana in northern Norway. The project area is crossed by the artic circle. Norwegian Statkraft was the client and contractor in one of Norway's largest hydropower construction sites. The Svartisen project also marked the end of a continuous era of large hydropower projects in Norway.   The use of 5 high performance TBM machines made this project unique and world production records were set several times in the Beiarn construction site with the ending record of 345 meter in one week. 4 of the TBMs operating from one adit with joint services.   The project drained the melting water from the massive glacier in 46 small shafts or stream intakes from the TBM tunnels and 2 conventional drill and blast tunnels. TBM diameter in these tunnels varied from 3.5 meter to 7.5 meter. Melting water from the glacier produces a huge amount of sand debris which has to be collected in large underground sand traps. The Storglomvann magazin collects the water from the eastern tunnels of Beiarn and Rana and contains a maximum of 3.5 billion m3 of water. Total annual energy production is 2.152 GWh (1.7% of Norway's total production).   The geology consisted mainly of micaschist and some massive granitic gneiss and softer marbles.   Tunnel & GeoConsult was Statkraft's on site geologist during the 4 year construction period. Field surveys of the large alpine area, rock mechanical testing in the Power station area and mapping and decision of permanent rock support of the tunnels and caverns were some of the main tasks.

Production data

Technical Data
Catchment area 554 km2
Reservoir capacity 3.470 million m3
Maximum regulated water level 521 m.a.s.
Installation 350 MW
Average annual production 2.152 GWh
Investment 3.750 mill NOK
Construction data
Access tunnels 12.850 meter
Water tunnels 79.300 meter
Station cavern 60.000 m3
Sand trap caverns 70.000 m3
Total dam volume. Storglomvatn and Holmvatn dams 6.45 million m3 rock


Brief encounter in the Trollberget mountains: Deep in the mountains of Beiarn, sacred to the native Sami people, our geologists found this artistic creation in marble, limestone and quartzite formed by wind and weather. She was imediately named the marble princess of Trollberget, watching suspiciously over Statkraft's activity in the valley below.

Map of Meløy and Svartisen

Map of Meløy and Svartisen