After the power plant was shut down in 1972, the Drei-Brüder-Schacht fell into a slumber, like so many monuments in Saxony. Only the low hum of the transformers in the switchgear probably kept unloved visitors from hunting for souvenirs in the buildings.
The fact that interested parties could take care of a technical monument like this legally and perhaps even with support opened up with the social upheavals in 1989. Enthusiasts who knew the power plant from different professional perspectives founded a non-profit association. By joining forces, it should be possible not only to preserve the building ensemble above ground, but also to cover the costs of reactivating the power plant.
The number of members grew quickly, as the idea of “clean power from the depths” found resonance not only in the immediate region. It was possible to stop the dilapidation, to re-roof, to repair the windows and also to make the exterior appealing again.
And the power plant beneath the feet of the active members? It quickly became clear that reactivating the historical technology would not succeed. The demands of modern times on power plant operation on the one hand and mining safety on the other created manifold areas of friction. Bold, creative plans were drafted and discussed. Again and again, the association looked for partners in politics and business, and again and again disillusionment set in because the boundary conditions simply did not want to be met.
While members were not discouraged by the developments ” underground”, they did everything they could “above ground” sacrificing many hours of their free time to raise their monument to greater and greater public awareness. It was imperative that future generations be given a glimpse of this interesting variant of hydropower utilisation. This is how the project of the environmental exhibition “WassErleben” (Experience Water) came about, which was finally completed in 2008. The city of Freiberg, the Saxon State Ministry for the Environment and Agriculture, the German Federal Foundation for the Environment and many companies in the region were involved.
Looking back over the more than 30-year history since the founding of the association, much has been achieved. The association has been able to welcome numerous visitors, especially during the annual steam model exhibitions, the “Days of Clean Power” and the traditional mead shifts on the historic grounds. The unique ambience is now also used for private celebrations. The use of hydroelectric power has not been lost sight of either: even if not on a large scale, there are plans in the future for a pico-power station to use the water flowing underground for energy.
A power plant like this at a depth of 270 metres is quite a challenge. Creativity, engineering spirit and muscle power are very much in demand to achieve the goal. Become a member to demonstrate new perspectives of energy generation in practice, as we have done for over 100 years. Who can claim to positively promote the synergy between the curse and blessing of mining … to be the operator of a unique hydroelectric power plant?
Getting clean energy from the depths was a revolutionary idea more than 100 years ago. Today, in the face of obvious climate change, not only discussing CO2 avoidance but also providing practical solutions is a real challenge.
We invite you to take up this challenge. Familiarise yourself with old and new technology, talk to experts. Those who have not only seen the workings of a machine in pictures, but have held it in their own hands, will understand how it works. Become a “screwdriver” or support us with your experience in using digital media, your ideas for cool workshops, excursions and other events.
You are cordially invited to join our unique technology club.