Dnieper Hydroelectric Station

Coordinates: 47°52′09″N 35°05′13″E / 47.86917°N 35.08694°E / 47.86917; 35.08694
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Dnieper Hydroelectric Station
Dnieper Hydroelectric Station is located in Zaporizhzhia Oblast
Dnieper Hydroelectric Station
Location of the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Ukraine
Coordinates47°52′09″N 35°05′13″E / 47.86917°N 35.08694°E / 47.86917; 35.08694
StatusNot operational
Dam and spillways
ImpoundsDnieper river
Length800 m (2,600 ft)
Active capacity3.3 km3 (2,700,000 acre⋅ft)
Power Station
Installed capacity1,578.6 MW

The Dnieper Hydroelectric Station (Ukrainian: ДніпроГЕС, romanizedDniproHES), also known as the Dnipro Dam, is a hydroelectric power station in the city of Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. Operated by Ukrhydroenergo, it is the fifth and largest station in the Dnieper reservoir cascade, a series of hydroelectric stations on the Dnieper river that supply power to the Donets–Kryvyi Rih industrial region. Its dam has a length of 800 metres (2,600 ft), a height of 61 metres (200 ft), and a flow rate of 38.7 metres (127 ft) per second.[citation needed]

The dam elevates the Dnieper river by 37 metres (121 ft) and maintains the water level of the Dnieper Reservoir, which has a volume of 3.3 km3 and stretches 129 kilometres (80 mi) upstream to the nearby city of Dnipro. The reservoir's two shipping canals—the disused original one with three staircase locks and a newer one with one staircase lock—allow ships to bypass the dam at its eastern end and sail upstream as far as the Pripyat River. A highway on the dam and bridge over the shipping canals enable vehicles to cross the Dnieper.

The electric station was built by the Soviet Union from 1927 to 1932. After being destroyed during World War II to make it harder for advancing German forces to cross the river, it was rebuilt from 1944 to 1950. An expansion built from 1969 to 1980 quadrupled the station's output, with further modernization renovations conducted in the 2000s.[when?] On 22 March 2024, after the Dnipro Dam was hit by Russian missiles, power output at the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station came to a halt.[1]


Early plans[edit]

The dam under construction in 1934

In the lower reaches of the Dnieper River, there was an almost 100-kilometre (62 mi)-long stretch that was filled with the Dnieper Rapids. This is approximately the distance between the modern cities Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia. During the 19th century, engineers worked on the projects to make the river navigable. Projects for flooding the rapids were proposed by N. Lelyavsky in 1893, V. Timonov(RU) in 1894, S. Maximov and Genrikh Graftio in 1905, A. Rundo and D. Yuskevich in 1910, I. Rozov and L. Yurgevich in 1912, Mohylko.[2][3]

While the main objective of these projects was to improve navigation, hydroelectric power generation was developed concurrently, in terms of the "utilization of the freely flowing water".[4] G. Graftio's(RU) 1905 project included three dams with a small area of flooding.

GOELRO plan and construction, 1921–1941[edit]

Colonel Cooper, on the left, the head of consultants and Alexander Vinter, The Dnieper Hydroelectric Station construction manager.

The Dneprostroi Dam was built on vacated land in the countryside at the old river crossing known as Kichkas just north of Khortytsia island. The reason for building it was to stimulate Soviet industrialization. A special company was formed called Dniprobud or Dneprostroi (hence the dam's alternative name) that later built other dams on the Dnieper and exists to this day. The design for the dam that was accepted dates back to the USSR GOELRO electrification plan which was adopted in the early 1920s. The station was designed by a group of engineers headed by Prof. Ivan Alexandrov, a chief expert of GOELRO, who later became a head of the RSFSR State Planning Commission. The station was planned to provide electricity for several aluminium production plants and a high quality iron and steel plant that were also to be constructed in the area.[5]

The DniproHES project used the experience gained from the construction of the Sir Adam Beck Hydroelectric Power Stations at Niagara Falls, Ontario, the Hydroelectric Island Maligne, Quebec, and the La Gabelle Generating Station on the St. Maurice River.[6] On 17 September 1932, the Soviet government awarded six American engineers (including Hugh Cooper, William V. Murphy, and G. Thompson, engineers of General Electric) with the Order of the Red Banner of Labour for "the outstanding work in the construction of DniproHES".

Soviet industrialization was accompanied by a wide propaganda effort. Leon Trotsky, by then out of power, campaigned for the idea within the ruling Politburo in early 1926. In a speech to the Komsomol youth movement, he said:[7]

In the south the Dnieper runs its course through the wealthiest industrial lands; and it is wasting the prodigious weight of its pressure, playing over age-old rapids and waiting until we harness its stream, curb it with dams, and compel it to give lights to cities, to drive factories, and to enrich ploughland. We shall compel it!

The dam and its buildings were designed by the constructivist architects Viktor Vesnin and Nikolai Kolli. Construction began in 1927, and the plant started to produce electricity in October 1932.[5] Generating about 560 MW, the station became the largest Soviet power plant at the time[5] and the third-largest in the world, following the Hoover Dam, 705 MW, and the Wilson Dam, 663 MW, in the United States.[5]

American specialists under the direction of Col. Hugh Cooper took part in the construction. The first five giant power generators were manufactured by the General Electric Company. During the second five-year plan, four more generators of similar power that were produced by Elektrosila in Leningrad were installed.[5] The Dneprostroi Dam was the largest dam in Europe at the time of its construction.

The industrial centres of Zaporizhzhia, Kryvy Rih, and Dnipro grew from the power provided by the station, including such electricity-consuming industries as aluminium production, which was vitally important for Soviet aviation.

World War II and post-war reconstruction[edit]

Milling of the Dneprostroi Dam generators at General Electric
A march through the Dnipro Dam in 1990, organized by pro-independence People's Movement of Ukraine

During World War II, the strategically important dam and plant were dynamited by retreating Red Army troops in 1941 after Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union. American journalist H. R. Knickerbocker wrote that year:[8]

The Russians have proved now by their destruction of the great dam at Dniepropetrovsk that they mean truly to scorch the earth before Hitler even if it means the destruction of their most precious possessions ... Dnieprostroy was an object almost of worship to the Soviet people. Its destruction demonstrates a will to resist which surpasses anything we had imagined. I know what that dam meant to the Bolsheviks ... It was the largest, most spectacular, and most popular of all the immense projects of the First Five-Year Plan ... The Dnieper Dam when it was built was the biggest on earth and so it occupied a place in the imagination and affection of the Soviet people difficult for us to realize ... Stalin's order to destroy it meant more to the Russians emotionally than it would mean to us for Roosevelt to order the destruction of the Panama Canal.

The resulting flood killed between 20,000 and 100,000 civilians, along with Red Army officers crossing the river at the time.[9] While a second attempt at dynamiting the dam by retreating German troops in 1943 was averted,[10][11] the dam remained extensively damaged, with the powerhouse hall was nearly destroyed. Both were rebuilt between 1944 and 1949.

General Electric shipped three new 90 MW generators for the dam in 1946, replacing the 77.5 MW generators destroyed during World War II. [12] Each generator weighed over 1,021 tonnes and had a frame diameter of 12.93 metres (42.4 ft).[12] Power generation was restarted in 1950, with a second powerhouse built from 1969 to 1980, expanding production capacity by 828 MW.


In the spring of 2016, all communist symbols (including the sign that stated that the dam was named after Vladimir Lenin) were removed from the dam in order to comply with decommunization laws.[13]

On 22 March 2024, the dam and its power station was struck by eight missiles[14] launched by Russia as part of a massive attack on energy infrastructure across Ukraine. The attack caused damage to the dam's structure, although officials said there was no risk of a breach. The head of the Ukrainian state-owned energy company Ukrhydroenergo, Ihor Syrota [uk] said that the Hydroelectric Power Station-2 (HPS-2), one of the dam's two power stations, was in critical condition after being struck directly by two missiles, damaging crane girders and a support pillar. A trolleybus travelling along the dam's roadway was also struck, setting it on fire and forcing the closure of the dam to motorists. One person was reported to have been killed in the attack.[15][16] The attack led to the station losing a third of its generation capacity[17] and Hr 159,305 ($4,100) in damage to water resources, as well as a suspension of water intake in Bilenke, downstream from the dam.[14] Ukrhydroenergo said that restoration works on the dam would take "years".[18] Environmental damage caused by the attack was estimated to be at least $3.5 million.[19]

On 12 April 2024, the dam caught on fire as a result of drone strikes launched by Russia. The fire caused around half a tonne of oil products leaking into the Dnieper River.[20]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Murray, Warren; writers, Warren Murray with Guardian (22 March 2024). "Ukraine war briefing: 'massive missile attack' hits Dnipro hydroelectric dam and affects nuclear plant". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
  2. ^ (in Russian) Непорожний П. С. Гидроэнергетика и комплексное использование водных ресурсов СССР (Hydropower and integrated use of water resources of the USSR). — Энергоиздат, 1982. — С. 17. — 559 с.
  3. ^ Dnieper Hydroelectric Station// Encyclopedia of Ukraine Archived 2009-03-18 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ (in Russian) Нестерук Ф. Я. Развитие гидроэнергетики СССР (Development of hydropower in the USSR). — Изд-во Академии наук СССР, 1963. — С. 34. — 382 с.
  5. ^ a b c d e С. Кульчицький (2004). Україна в системі загальносоюзного народногосподарського комплексу (PDF). Проблеми Історії України: факти, судження, пошуки (in Ukrainian). 11: 30–31. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 October 2008.
  6. ^ Новицкий В. (2002). Днепрогэс — символ советско-американской дружбы (PDF). 2000 (in Russian) (393): A7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2011.
  7. ^ Quoted in Isaac Deutscher. The Prophet Unarmed: Trotsky: 1921-1929, Oxford University Press, 1959, reprinted by Verso, 2003, ISBN 1-85984-446-4, p. 178.
  8. ^ Knickerbocker, H. R. (1941). Is Tomorrow Hitler's? 200 Questions On the Battle of Mankind. Reynal & Hitchcock. pp. 107–108. ISBN 9781417992775.
  9. ^ Ukrainian Activists Draw Attention To Little-Known WWII Tragedy 23 August 2013, www.rferl.org, accessed 4 March 2022
  10. ^ Plokhy, Serhii (30 May 2017). The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine. Basic Books. pp. 292–293. ISBN 978-0-465-09346-5.
  11. ^ "Damn Dams – For Ukrainians, Devastation Caused by Destruction of Dams Should Be No Surprise". Get the Latest Ukraine News Today - KyivPost. Retrieved 7 June 2023.
  12. ^ a b Hydro-electric Generator for Russia's Dnieprostroi Dam, 1945. Image #21.009. Science Service Historical Image Collection. National Museum of American History. Smithsonian Institution, accessed 4 March 2022
  13. ^ (in Ukrainian) In Zaporizhzhia began to "dekomunize" DniproGES, Radio Free Europe (4 April 2016)
  14. ^ a b Martin Fornusek (24 March 2024). "Ministry: Situation at Zaporizhzhia's Dnipro Dam under control, no danger of breach". The Kyiv Independent. Retrieved 24 March 2024.
  15. ^ Kateryna Hodunova (22 March 2024). "Ukrhydroenergo: One station of Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant in critical state". The Kyiv Independent. Retrieved 22 March 2024.
  16. ^ Olena Goncharova; Martin Fornusek (22 March 2024). "Zaporizhzhia's Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant hit amid Russian attack on energy infrastructure". The Kyiv Independent. Retrieved 22 March 2024.
  17. ^ Kateryna Denisova (24 March 2024). "Ukrhydroenergo: Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant lost a third of generation capacity after Russian strike". The Kyiv Independent. Retrieved 24 March 2024.
  18. ^ Kateryna Denisova (25 March 2024). "Ukhydroenergo: 'Years' needed to restore Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant after Russian attack". The Kyiv Independent. Retrieved 26 March 2024.
  19. ^ Dmytro Basmat (28 March 2024). "Russian attacks on Dnipro hydroelectric plant caused $3.5 million in environmental damage". The Kyiv Independent. Retrieved 28 March 2024.
  20. ^ "Ukraine says Russian drones damaged energy infrastructure in south". Reuters. 12 April 2024.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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