Back to start

Lilla Edet

Lilla Edet
Work on construction of Lilla Edet power plant, which is situated on the Göta Älv river, started in 1918. The plant was designed to supply power for the main railway line between Stockholm and Gothenburg. However, due to the recession after the war, Lilla Edet was eight years in the making, and was not commissioned until 1926. On completion, the Kaplan turbine which was built as unit 1 was the largest in the world. Lilla Edet now also has two fish ladders – an investment which has improved conditions for the salmon population in the Göta Älv river, amongst others.

History and technology

The choice of Lilla Edet as the site of a hydro power plant both had advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages was that the Göta Älv river has the most water of any of Sweden’s rivers, with an average flow rate of 550 m3 per second. The main disadvantage at that time was the low head of only about four metres. However, when a floodgate was built to the municipality of Trollhättan, a dam was also built in 1916, which increased Lilla Edet's head to 6.5 metres.

Lilla Edet was the first power plant to use Kaplan turbines and, on completion, the Kaplan turbine built as unit 1 was the largest in the world. Since, at that time, the Kaplan turbine had not yet been properly tested, Lawaczeck turbines were chosen for the other two units. However, one of these was later replaced with a propeller turbine. In 1982, a fourth unit with a 13 MW bulb-type turbine was added. This makes Lilla Edet power plant unique, because it combines four different types of turbine in a single power plant.

Lilla Edet's machine room was designed by the architect Erik Hahr. He broke away from the monumental architectural style which characterised Vattenfall's older power plants in Trollhättan, Porjus and Älvkarleby. Lilla Edet was also built from different materials: during the 1920s, granite was replaced by concrete. The new turbines required higher ceilings than had been needed previously, so the machine room looked a bit like a church.

Fish ladders

At one time, the Göta Älv river was one of the best rivers in Sweden for salmon-fishing. To improve conditions for the salmon population and to help the salmon swim upstream, two salmon ladders were built at Lilla Edet power plant. During the spawning season it's a good place to watch the salmon leap. The ladders have also been fitted with a counter, which counts the salmon that migrate up the ladder. Every year, Vattenfall releases 35,000 smolt in the vicinity of the power plant to compensate for the natural spawning grounds which disappeared when the river was expanded.

About the Göta Älv river

The Göta Älv river, on which Lilla Edet is situated, has its source in Lake Vänern, Sweden’s largest lake. Flowing from Lake Vänern to the Port of Gothenburg and out into the Kattegatt, the Göta Älv river transports more water than any other river in Sweden. The 44-metre drop is mainly concentrated in the upper reaches of the river at Vargön, Trollhättan and Lilla Edet. The Göta Älv river has been a major transport route for centuries, particularly following the construction of the Göta Canal.  Vattenfall owns and operates the four hydro power plants on the Göta Älv river: Vargön, Hojum, Olidan and Lilla Edet. The newest of these is Hojum, which was completed in 1941, and the oldest is Olidan, which was completed in 1910.

More information (links open in new window)