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Øygarden kommune, Norway

Ocean Wave Power Plants

Ruins of two abandoned stations destroyed by the power they sought to harness. 

Enormous waves pummel the shore of this Norwegian peninsula, sending spurts of water erupting skyward. It’s a dramatic show of the power that both created and destroyed these two abandoned plants.

Norway began toying with the idea of harnessing wave power in the 1980s. The wind-whipped waters of the North Sea frequently unleash their fury along the west coast, making the country ideally situated to experiment with pioneering wave technology.

In 1985, a pilot wave power plant opened at Toftestallen. Waves went crashing into a tapered channel, where the water then coursed through a basin before passing through a turbine generator as the current tugged it back to sea.

However, just three years after it opened, a winter storm sent the water hurtling toward the station with a frenzied ferocity. The power plant was destroyed, reduced to ruins by the very same power it aimed to harness. A second wave power plant was built nearby, but it too eventually succumbed to the ocean’s strength.

Now, it’s possible to see all that remains of the abandoned plants. The insides of some of the structures are now in disarray and covered with graffiti, and the waves still thrash against them like a constant reminder of nature’s unyielding power.

Know Before You Go

The power plant is located on the island of Sotra, about a 45-minute drive from the Bergen city center. Enter the area at your own risk and walk carefully.