One of the most enormous dams in the world can be found on a river near the third-largest city in Siberia, in the south-central part of Russia.
In this article, you’ll discover some of the most interesting facts about the Krasnoyarsk Dam, an enormous electricity-producing structure that held a remarkable record upon completion.
1. It’s located near the city with the same name in Siberia
The Krasnoyarsk Dam is located about 30 kilometers (19 miles) upstream from the city of Krasnoyarsk, the third-largest city in Siberia with over 1 million inhabitants.
The city is an important point on the Trans-Siberian Railway and is renowned for being one of the largest producers of aluminum in Russia, an industry that immensely benefits from this mighty dam.
Apart from this relatively gloomy description, the city is also famous for its wonderful natural landscapes, especially during the freezing winter month. Therefore, it’s sometimes referred to as the “most beautiful city in Siberia.”
2. It was built on the fifth-longest river system in the world
The enormous dam was constructed on one of the most famous rivers in the world called the “Yenisey,” also sometimes referred to as the “Yenisei,” “Enisei,” or “Jenisej.”
This river is one of the longest rivers in the world as well as it runs all across central Siberia and drains immense parts of this region. It flows all the way from its tributary Selenga in Mongolia in the south, to its mouth in the Kara Sea in the north.
The immense river eventually releases in the Arctic Ocean and has a total length of 5,539 kilometers (3,445 miles), making it the fifth-longest river in the world!
3. It took 16 years to build this enormous structure
The growing aluminum industry in the region prompted the Soviet government at the time to explore options to create a concrete gravity dam. They eventually found the perfect location in the town of Divnogorsk in the federal district of Krasnoyarsk Krai, a region that occupies about half the area of Siberia.
After an extended period of planning, the construction of the dam eventually started in the year 1956 and was only completed in 1972, 16 years later!
The dam eventually ended up being as high as the average skyscraper with a maximum height of 124 meters (407 feet), and it has a total length of 1,065 meters (3,494 feet).
4. An enormous reservoir was created because of the dam
Perhaps one of the most amazing facts about the Krasnoyarsk Dam is that its construction created an enormous body of water known as the Krasnoyarsk Reservoir.
This reservoir is one of the largest artificial reservoirs in the world. It has a maximum length of about 388 kilometers (241 miles) and maximum width of 15 kilometers (9 miles).
Because this enormous artificial lake covers a total area of about 2,000 square kilometers (770 square miles), it’s also sometimes referred to as the “Krasnoyarsk Sea.”
5. It featured the largest power plant in the world upon completion
Most of the energy generated by the huge concrete gravity dam is supplied to the “KrAZ,” short for the “Krasnoyarsky Aluminievyy Zavod” or the “Krasnoyarsk Aluminum Plant.” This means that it has directly contributed to Krasnoyarsk becoming one of the biggest manufacturing centers of aluminum in Russia.
Both the enormous aluminum factory and power plant are managed by “RUSAL,” or the “United Company RUSAL.” This company is the second-largest producer of aluminum in the world and has only been overtaken by the China Hongqiao Group in 2015!
The 10th turbine opened for production in April of the year 1971 and this resulted in the dam becoming the largest power plant in the world, producing about 6,000 MW (6 GW) of power.
It held this amazing record for over a decade as well and was only surpassed by the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington. This dam produced a total of 6,181 MW in 1983.
6. The dam creates some remarkable weather phenomena
To say that the dam has a great influence on the local weather in the region of Krasnoyarsk is an understatement. Before the dam was completed, the river always froze over during the freezing Siberian winters.
The river never freezes over for a length of between 200 and 300 kilometers (120 and 190 miles) downstream of the dam. That’s because the dam continuously releases massive amounts of unfrozen water throughout the year.
One of the most remarkable facts about the Krasnoyarsk Dam is that it also creates an unpleasant weather phenomenon in the area downstream of Krasnoyarsk. That’s because the ice-cold air interacts with the relatively hot water from the river and turns it into thick clouds of fog.
7. The complex features the only ship lift in Russia
One of the most fascinating features of the Krasnoyarsk hydroelectric power station is the fact that it allows for ships to pass through a specially designed ship lift.
Arriving ships are placed onto a canal inclined plane, which is basically a railway track for boats, and are transported up or down the length of the dam. The railway track has a width of 9 meters (29.52 feet) which makes it the largest of its kind in the world.
Equally remarkable is that this railway track is powered by electricity as well and allows for ships of up to 1,500 tonnes to be transported in less than 90 minutes. This remarkable feat of engineering was completed between 1976 and 1982.
8. It’s considered to be an important landmark structure in the area
Apart from being incredibly important for the city of Krasnoyarsk and the local aluminum industry, the dam is also considered to be a landmark of national importance in Russia.
It’s a symbol of the city of Krasnoyarsk and its entire region and this is emphasized by the fact that it’s been depicted on the back of the 10-Ruble banknote since 1997.