Electrification in the Russian Empire

The starting point of the era of electricity in the Russian state is considered to be the 1879 year, when the Foundry Bridge in St. Petersburg was lit with electric light. It was the first bridge in the world that was lit with electricity.

This historical fact is connected with one interesting curiosity. The fact is that the city government of St. Petersburg sold a monopoly on the illumination of city streets to private companies, which carried out the lighting with the help of gas and oil lamps. The foundry bridge was built after the conclusion of this agreement and was not covered by the contract. That is why the electrification of the Russian state began with a bridge.

The year before this event in 1878, the engineer Borodin electrified the turning shop of the Kiev railway workshops. As a result of this action, the workshop began to illuminate four electric arc lamps. This is a well-known fact, but it was not chosen as a starting point because it had a narrow departmental significance and was inaccessible to the eyes of the general public.

The next important date is 30 January 1880. This date is considered the birthday of the electrical engineering department of the Russian Technical Society, designed to oversee the further electrification of Russia. In the same year, work began on the lighting of city streets of St. Petersburg and Moscow. True, the amount of work carried out was extremely small - about 200 lamps for both capitals. Yablochkov's lamps illuminated the Kiev workshops of the Dnieper Shipping Company. It is worth noting that at this electrification stage all electricity consumers (which were exclusively lighting fixtures) used direct current, as a result, the source of electricity had to be located directly next to the consumer, which suggested certain problems during the transmission of electrical energy over long distances. For example, in the Kiev railway workshops each lamp had an electromagnetic Gram machine.

Two years later, on May 15, 1883, was marked by a grand Kremlin illumination. The occasion for this celebration was the coronation of Emperor Alexander III in St. Petersburg. In order to make this project possible on the Sofia Embankment a special power plant was built. In the same year, the central street of the capital of the Empire was illuminated, and after some time the Winter Palace was electrified. This order was handled by the German company Siemens und Halske. There is evidence that claims that the first large-scale power plant in Russia capable of producing 35 kW of energy was built to implement this project. This power plant is unique in that it was located on a barge that was moored to the Moika Embankment, in the immediate vicinity of the police bridge.

Illumination of the Moscow Kremlin 1883

Then for several years there was not a single mention of any major events related to electrification, however in 1886 there came the news that the park “Chateau de Fleur” was lit in Kiev (at the present time there is a stadium Dynamo).

31 July 1887 of the Year by the Electric Lighting Society, founded by Karl Fedorovich Siemens (at that time Russian citizen, merchant of the first guild), makes a decision to start targeted electrification in Moscow. The implementation of such ambitious plans began with Tverskaya Street, namely with the device of electric lighting in the Postnikovsky passage (now the Yermolova Theater).

Generally speaking, if we talk about the “Society of Electric Lighting”, it played an immeasurable role in the process of electrifying Russia. By the way: the charter of this society was approved by the Highest Decree of Emperor Alexander III on July 4 of the year. After the completion of the 1886 revolution, the facilities of this enterprise were nationalized and became part of the unified power grid, on the basis of which Mosenergo JSC is currently operating.

3 February 1888 in Moscow signed an agreement for the lease of land for the construction of Russia's first central city power plant. The power plant was named Georgievskaya. It was located at the intersection of Georgievsky Lane and Bolshaya Dmitrovka. Among the consumers who received electricity from the power plant, private homeowners also appeared. The range of electric power supply by the power plant was limited to a radius of one and a half versts. Cables were laid in special brick channels.

In addition to the Central Power Station, several less powerful power stations functioned in Moscow at that time - the City (illuminated the square of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the Stone Bridge), the Imperial Theaters, the University, at the Brest and Yaroslavl stations, the Palace (the Kremlin). Similarly, the situation in other major cities of the Russian Empire - St. Petersburg and Kiev. The length of the power cables was limited by the fact that direct current was used for electrification, therefore small local power plants were built everywhere.

Already in the middle of 1892 of the year (July 3), the first electric tram in the Russian Empire was launched in Kiev. The length of the line was one and a half kilometers. The power of the station, from which the tram was powered, was 30 kW.

In 1895, on the Bolshaya Okhta river in St. Petersburg, Russia launched the first hydroelectric power station in Russia, an incredible power for those times - 300 kW. In the same year, under the Office of the Administration of the Vladikavkaz Railway, the Bely Ugol HPP was built and put into operation, located between Yessentuki and Kislovodsk on the Podkumok River. Electricity from this hydroelectric station was used to illuminate the resorts.

A reservation should be made that all-Russian electrification in this period was of a decentralized nature, which is why the events we have indicated do not constitute a complete list of the activities being carried out for the purpose of electrifying Russia. Wealthy homeowners installed their own sources of electrical energy in their homes, and sometimes quite powerful ones, the same was observed in the estate tenure and in the agricultural sector. Considering that these events were practically absent on the pages of newspapers, we practically know nothing about them.

Another important event of that time was the construction and launch of a power station on Raushskaya Embankment. This power plant is the first truly large power plant in Russia, which also produced three-phase alternating current. This innovation allowed for the transfer of electrical energy over much longer distances, using the principle of increasing voltage. The installation of the power plant equipment began on 28 on April 1897, and the launch took place in November of that year. The power of this steam-turbine power plant at start-up was 1,47 MW; in 1915, during the First World War, the second stage of the power plant was launched, whose power was 21 MW. The oldest surviving posting in Moscow passed the current apparently from this power plant. Consumers of that time were supplied with current of frequency 50 Hz, but the voltage in the network was 127 B.

Gradually, the situation began to emerge when most of the electricity generated by the Raushskaya power station went to power the electric trams that appeared in Moscow in the early twentieth century. To unload the Raushsky power station, a power station was installed near the Small Stone Bridge, which was supposed to feed the tram network. Its power was - 6 MW.

Raushskaya power station

Below are some dates that characterize the distribution of electrical energy in Russia:

  • 1901 year - launch of the first power plants in Yaroslavl and Kursk;
  • 1908 year - launched the first power plant in the city of Chita;
  • 1912 year - the power plant in Vladivostok was launched;
  • 1912 - 1914 of the year - the period of construction and launch of the world's largest thermal power plant, the fuel for which is peat, “Electricity Transmission” near the city of Bogorodsk (Noginsk);
  • 1915 year - the launch of the Moscow Electrolamp Plant.

So, during the pre-war development period, the power industry of Russia reached the total installed capacity of electricity sources equal to 1100 MW, and for the year the output was 1900000 MW / h (according to data for 1913 a year). The total capacity of all launched hydropower plants in Russia in 1917 was 19 MW. The Hindu Kush HPP at that time was considered the most powerful, its potential was estimated at 1,35 MW.

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