Greetings All! I am sure that my lack of posting here for the last three weeks has gone completely unnoticed but I’ve been away. This time my work took me to a part of Siberia in the Russian Far East northwest of Magadan that in more sinister times was known as the “Gulag Archipelago”. I even got to visit a gulag camp where an untold number of wretched souls perished, winning tin and uranium from underground mines using hammers and chisels between 1935 and 1955. I have in front of me a souvenir – a piece of barbed wire from that surreal place, but such details are beyond the scope of these forums. To this day it is said that Magadan has one of the highest concentration of artists and writers in the Former Soviet Union – genetic testimony to their forbearer’s talents that often got them on the wrong side of Josef Stalin.
But I digress. I know that many of you like to see how things are wired (so to speak) in other parts of the world so I would like to share with you some pictures I took of the electrical systems of Siberia.
To give the post some type of order, I will start with power generation and finish with the recepticles. I will also split up the post to limit the downloads required each time. I have tried to keep the size of each image small with a hyperlink next to each picture for the full-sized version.
Part 1 Full size
Here we have Senegoriye Power Station that supplies the whole of the Magadan Oblast. On my atlas, the place is shown as Ust’-Bokhapcha – 275km north of Magadan. We commented amongst ourselves that somewhere in the Pentagon, a red spot marked its location! Built in the 1970’s it has five turbines – only two of which were in use on the day of the visit. Russian phases are marked red, green and yellow. This was seen on this power station and on a substation in Susuman – no photos I’m afraid. Full size
From the dials, even at 40% capacity the wheels were spinning with very little in the way of customers. I read 10kV and 50A on one of the generator sets which from the scale on the MW dial is considerably under capacity. Interesting here is the use of the Latin alphabet for volts and watts and not Cyrillic – compare this to the next photo. The manager of the plant was keen for business. Built during a period of Russian history when the natural laws of supply and demand did not apply it was made far too big. And they’re building a second plant downstream of this one. Surely a hangover from an earlier time. It’s an ill wind that blows no good though. How does 15 kopeks (half a US cent) per kWh sound for bulk power cost? Sounds pretty good to me! Full size
For those of you that can decipher it, here what the Russian gen-set is capable of. The engineers have used all Cyrillic on this plate but I can work out it’s 13800 V, 50 Hz with a stator current of 8880 A and rotor current of 2063 A. You may need to click on the full sized image to see it all. Any volunteers to decode the rest or comment on the nature of this beast? Full size
Here is a typical Siberian power pylon made of round lumber. It was one of a pair of lines that had just been overhauled with new insulators. This pair is a back-up to the main pair of lines that feed Magadan by a different route. Talk about built in redundancy – no ‘just in time’ principal here. Northeast USA power utilities please take note.
In common with most of the HV and MV lines I saw, there was no grounding wire provided above the phases. Full size
Ust’-Omchug is a desolate run down town 180km NNW of Magadan that is typical of the region. Mostly depopulated with many decayed and crumbling buildings, this substation supplied the centre of the town. Perestroika
– the adoption of a market economy in the early ‘80s – was a near death knell for the region. Most mines and industry closed down, the people moved away and gradually the roofs of the abandoned buildings collapsed into their rotten shells. There were some people clinging on here. A local mining headquarters was behind me and children ran around smiling, dressed in brightly coloured Russian jerseys. Full size
My Babelfish translates the last line as ‘it will kill’. Even in Cyrillic Russian, the sign on the Ust’-Omchug substation door is quite clear in its meaning.
[This message has been edited by Trumpy (edited 06-24-2005).]