Special Report

Where to Take a Tour of the World’s Power Plants

From Nevada’s Hoover Dam to a geothermal plant next to an Icelandic volcano, these six power stations open their doors to visitors

The Hoover Dam generates about 4 billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power each year, enough to power the lives of 1.3 million people. (Wikimedia Commons)

Alholmens Kraft Power Station, Finland

(Antti Leppänen / Wikimedia Commons)

The largest biomass power plant in the world, Alholmens Kraft, runs on something decidedly old fashioned—wood. But this plant has an electrical power capacity of 265 thousand kilowatts, an amount that could fuel the streetlamps of a road wrapping around the entire planet.

Opened in 2001, Alholmens Kraft’s main fuel comes from forest residues, mostly waste products such as bark and wood chips from the local logging, paper and sawmill industries. The plant burns about 300,000 bales of this material each year. Additional power comes from peat--decayed vegetation, usually mosses--that’s collected from nearby bogs. The plant can also burn coal, but it’s only used as a reserve fuel.

Alholmens Kraft is a cogeneration plant, which means it simultaneously creates electricity and heat. So much heat in fact, that the plant provides enough warmth for all residents of Jakobstad, the city where it’s located. Its biomass-fired boiler operates at a scorching 1,013 degrees Fahrenheit, burning through 28,000 cubic feet of biofuel per hour.

The plant’s visiting address can be found here.

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