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Nikola Tesla in Sibenik
Sibenik, Croatia

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Krka Beyond the Waterfalls: World's Second Oldest Hydroelectric Power Plant

 By Nikolina Demark

Total Croatia News, March 26, 2018  (online October 2020)

Krka National Park does, indeed, house some priceless industrial heritage.

Right next to the iconic Skradinski Buk waterfall, you'll find Jaruga Hydroelectric Power Plant, the first alternating current power system in Croatia. An impressive fact for the NP to boast, but there's more: the Jaruga is the second oldest hydroelectric power plant in the entire world, having opened only two days after the world's first - Tesla's hydroelectric power plant on Niagara Falls. It should be noted that the Jaruga was also constructed after
Tesla's design.

The Jaruga was originally designed to power the street lights in the Dalmatian city of Šibenik. Owing to that, Šibenik is now known as the first city in the world whose street lights were powered by a polyphasic system of alternating current.

So, how did the Jaruga power plant first come to be? In 1893, Šibenik's mayor Ante Šupuk, his son Marko and a certain engineer named Vjekoslav Meichser started a business together, then obtained a license to use the waters of the river Krka - a sort of a concession agreement, so to speak. A year later, they obtained a a permit to set up electrical power lines on municipal property so they could start lighting the streets of Šibenik with electric power.

The construction of Jaruga power plant started in 1894 and lasted over a year. The original plant was built at a different location, with its second version built in its current location in 1903.  The transmission line from the Jaruga to the city was 11 kilometres (36 miles) long, spanning along wooden towers; the municipal distribution grid included six transformer stations.

What about the water supply for the power plant? Well, considering we're talking about Krka here, there was no shortage of supply: the river Krka measures some 56 kilometres from its spring to the point where it flows into the Adriatic Sea. Its total catchment area covers 2427 square kilometres, 142 of those located within the borders of Krka National Park.

Oh, the next time you visit Krka National Park, make sure to stop by the Jaruga, where you'll be greeted by an old turbine bearing witness to this amazing part of Croatia's history. In a time where major European capitals such as Paris and London were still powered by monophasic current, the city of Šibenik was already light years ahead. Oh, and speaking of that world's first power plant on Niagara Falls... the nearby city of Buffalo had to wait a year to see the first burst of power. For a while, Šibenik really was a metropolis in its own right.

KRKA - Second polyphase AC power plant in the world

The hydroelectric power plant "Krka" (later called Jaruga I) was the first commercial polyphase alternating current (AC) power system in Croatia, the first such hydro power plant in Europe, and second in the world. It was set in operation on 28 August 1895, at 20:00, two days after the famous Adams Power Plant on the Niagara Falls.  The same evening hydroelectric  plant "Krka" began supplying power to the street lights in Šibenik, making it the first city in the world with street lights powered by a polyphase system of alternating current (AC). The transmission line from the power plant to the city of Šibenik was 11 km (6.8 mi) long on wooden towers, and the municipal distribution grid 3000V/110 V included six transformer stations.

Although Niagara plant was set in operation few days before Krka plant, the first electricity transmitted from Niagara Falls to nearby Buffalo was sent one year later, on November 16, 1896, when building of the 22 mile transmission line was finished.

Both hydroelectric plants, Adams Power Plant on the Niagara Falls and
"Krka" power plant, were based on the work of Nikola Tesla, using Tesla's AC system patent. These power plants were built during the "War of Currents" between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison as to whether alternating current or direct current electric power would prevail, and successful operation of first AC hydroelectric plants led to adoption of alternating current at much larger scale and its eventual dominance worldwide.
- Yacht Charter Croatia  (online October 2020)

Nikola Tesla Artifacts in Krka National Park

Six details below:

See Tesla-designed turbine below

In 1893, at the Chicago World's fair, Tesla's invention of polyphase alternate current was applied in practice as an integral system of power-supply of lights and different motors , thanks to close collaboration of Nicola Tesla and George
Westinghouse - the owner of Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company.

On 26 August, 1895, only two days before the Krka hydroelectric power plant, Adams's hydroelectric plant on the Niagara Falls was put into operation.  The development of the project of the
hydroelectric power plant was set in 1889, and when George Westinghouse joined the project, it was ensured that Tesla's invention  would be applied in construction of integral electro energetic system for production, transmission  and distribution of polyphase alternating current.  in November 1896 long-distance AC power transmission between Adam's hydropower plant and the town of Buffalo was established.

2018 Photos
Nikola Tesla-designed turbine in Krka National Park

Turbine below is found to the right of this waterfall in the park

turbine   ...   Left building:  Remains of the    ...   Four details below:

Color photos and their arrangement 2018 Chuck LaChiusa
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