The History of Hartevaerket

The powerplant in Harte, known as Hartevaerket, was built in the years of 1918-1920, and was the first big powerplant in Denmark. It was built to meet a growing demand for energy, used for lighting and industrial purposes.

Hartevaerket was build right after the first world war and was used for the first time in 1920. At this point many electricity-producing powerplants were already being used around the world.
In Europe, the powerplants were especially often build at places with large amounts of water and places with height differences. Hartevaerket was therefore built with well-known techniques.


The whole project ended up costing 3.6 million DKK, this includes the purchase of land and the cost of digging the canals. Today this quals to about 1300 million DKK (or a bit more than 2 billion dollars).

In its time, Hartevaerket could almost make electricity for half of Kolding, but now it only produces 1% of the electricity usage in the city.

From water to electricity

The powerplant is a stroke of genius, because the dam by Vester Nebel stream at Ferup forces the water to go against the natural current and because of this, the water is dammed up in the Dons lakes.

From here the water is being lead to Stallerup stream and then through a canal underneath the highway through an 80-meter tube into the turbines of the plant.

This drives the turbines, they then use the power of the water falling to make electricity.

It is the same turbines and generators that are used to produce the electricity on Hartevaerket now as it was originally. The height of the fall is 25.4 meters (83 ft) and is the largest in Denmark. 6,000 liters of waters go through the tube every second.

The tube has a valve meaning that if the tube should be broken, then the water flow will stop automatically.

The turbines of Hartevaerket are the original machines from 1920. The work’s production is depended on the amount water.


Hartevaerket was built in a neoclassicism style, and the interior is a machine hall where the three turbines are. The hall is split into three smaller departments: office-room instrument-room and panel-room.

The building was designed by the famous Kolding architect Ernst Petersen, he also designed the nearby houses for the people working at Hartevaerket. Ernst Petersen has tried to make the work look like a nearby church, Vonsild Kirke, slightly outside of Kolding. The church was designed by the architect C.F Hansen also in Neoclassicism. Ernst Petersen meant that electricity and energy were holy and as he was a fan of C.F Hansen he meant that Hartevaerket should look like a church.


About Hartevaerket

There are three turbines at the Harteværk, where two of them have 525 HK and one has 300 HK. This means that the turbines added together have 1350 HK, equal to about 1000 kW.

There used to be a an engineer, two assistant engineers and two workers to make sure that the plant was fully functioning, at any time.

Rebuilding the nature of Vester Nebel stream

To secure the fishing and plant environment in the stream, in 2007 an effort was made to rebuild the environment surrounding Vester Nebel stream. This meant that there was 60 % less water going into Hartevaerket. However, the production of electricity kept going.

Today Hartevaerket is preserved both from building and machinery as it is part of Denmarks industrial history. Most of the equipment is still the original and it has been used for almost 100 years and is therefore a living part of history.

Today Hartevaerket is run by the fond: Fonden Harteværket.