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Cooling Tower & Gas Holder, Power Plant IM, Charelroi, Belgium, November 2019

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HughieD

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1. The History
Power Plant IM was originally built in 1921 in the Monceau-sur-Sambre neighbourhood of Charleroi. After its completion it was one of the largest coal burning power plants in Belgium. Water was let into the cooling tower where it would be cooled by the wind that swept in from portals in the base of the tower, releasing billowing columns of hot air. By 1977 the power plant and its massive tower was the main source of energy for the Charleroi area and is said to have been able to cool 480,000 gallons of water per minute.

By the 1970s new components were even added to the power-plant that could also use gas power. However, the power-plant’s days were numbered. After years of service, a report found that Power Plant IM was responsible for around 10% of the total CO2 emissions in Belgium. Due to this, protests from Greenpeace in 2006 gave the power plant major negative attention and it closed a year later in 2007. After it was closed down, there were reports of looting by metal scrappers. The power plant still lies abandoned, and is said to be scheduled for demolition, but until that time it continues to stand as a popular location for urban explorers.

2. The Explore
This place needs no introduction and is possibly one of the most photographed places on the urbex circuit. It lies to the south-west of Charleroi down a long pot-holed road, on the opposite bank of the River Sambe to the powerplant itself. Last time I came here on a pretty tight schedule I parked up and walked down to the cooling tower and wandered on to the site. Sadly, though, the magic door was heavily locked. Game over. All was not lost, however, as the base of the cooling tower was accessible and I managed to get some reasonably impressive, if not definitive, shots from there. Fast-forward 18 months and I’m in Charleroi with a car on my own. Hence it was time to have another crack at it. Recent reports indicated it may be open again. So approached the magic door with trepidation and excitement. Much to my joy it had no lock on it and it was a very easy in and into this dystopian and beautiful former cooling tower. After spending half-an-hour in there popped over to the gas storage tower. Went up the steps so far but bottled going to the top.

3. The Pictures

Hello again old friend:

49051428971_2d63fe36fa_b.jpgimg3996 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49051640452_c13e897fc7_b.jpgimg3997 by HughieDW, on Flickr

On to the steps up:

49051611162_f022a11428_b.jpgimg4040 by HughieDW, on Flickr
49051612232_3f00ec09a2_b.jpgimg4039 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And on to the magic door:

49051426326_c081177482_b.jpgimg3998 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And we’re in. Wow!

49052022426_7169afc014_b.jpgIM 05 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49052020266_44454c5c5c_b.jpgIM 04 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49052020031_c0611f0b4e_b.jpgIM 06 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49052239102_cbb76739d2_b.jpgIM 09 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49051628377_428a0f8d0f_b.jpgimg4013 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49051623187_cec564e529_b.jpgimg4018 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49050899628_3533c9435e_b.jpgimg4024 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Like some type of dystopian garden centre:

49051402461_c6f06b3b8a_b.jpgimg4030 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49051614412_72783121ff_b.jpgimg4035 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And wall-to-wall concrete:

49050898033_270e672598_b.jpgimg4025 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Glad to be up here than down there this time:

49050911218_e275c95b91_b.jpgimg4004 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Meanwhile, underneath:

49052026596_d69a67c855_b.jpgIM 10 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49051609517_b22b7813ea_b.jpgimg4044bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

At the bottom looking up:

27644856118_4c2516338b_b.jpgimg6764 by HughieDW, on Flickr

27644860448_3028b2d568_b.jpgimg6759 by HughieDW, on Flickr

27644861708_bc3c78d184_b.jpgimg6757bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

Over the river, the power station itself:

49051613357_bd49811e07_b.jpgimg4038 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And then on to the gas storage tower:

49051389201_8e1c7277b7_b.jpgimg4054 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49051608787_b93205de1c_b.jpgimg4046 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49051607042_2490fbf3e3_b.jpgimg4048 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49051604827_5f5ff5a9c1_b.jpgimg4050 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Dystopian:
49051605837_3bdbc8db63_b.jpgimg4049 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Up we go:
49051390721_afb54069fd_b.jpgimg4051 by HughieDW, on Flickr

49050881848_ee348dbb13_b.jpgimg4052 by HughieDW, on Flickr
 

Hugh Jorgan

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Cooling towers are very photogenic, doesn't matter what time of day it is or where the sun is shining you still get a good photo. If they had demolished that cooling tower you would have nothing to shoot at.
 

zombizza

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Lovely.
A beautiful spot.
Did you go over to the powerplant?
I wasn't expecting much there but was pleasantly surprised once we got going
 
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