Running the power station

Project: History and architecture of GES-2

At first, GES-2 was known as the Tramway plant, as it had been built between 1905 and 1913 to power the Moscow tram network. It was the first power station to be constructed at the expense of the Moscow city treasury. In 1922, the Soviet electrification plan saw Moscow’s power stations united into a common MOGES network. The Tramway plant, which by that time powered the central areas of Moscow as well as the tram network, was designated the “second” station (MOGES-2), and what is now Russia’s oldest operating power station—MOGES-1 on the neighbouring Raushskaya Embankment—was designated the first.

The Tramway plant in front of the Government House, 1931–1932
Photo: Robert Byron
Mosenergo Development History Museum

GES-2 was a traditional thermal power station. Six steam boilers were connected to each of its four chimneys. Fuel was burned in the furnaces, heating the water in the boilers and turning it into steam. Under high pressure, this steam then entered turbogenerators designed by the Swiss manufacturers Brown, Boveri & Company, setting in motion the turbines of the electric generators. To cool the steam and machinery, water from the Vodootvodny Canal was pumped in at a rate of 500,000 buckets per hour by two pumps installed in a basement (the present-day Pump Room). Through cables laid along the bed of the Moskva River, a three-phase alternating current of 6600 volts was supplied to tram substations, where it was then turned into a direct current of 600 volts by transformers.

The engine room of The Tramway plant, 1911
Photo: City railways. 1903-1911. Publication of Moscow town council. М., 1912

At first, oil brought in through pipes from the storage near the Simonov Monastery served as fuel for GES-2's furnaces. In the years to come, the furnaces would variously run on wood, peat, fuel oil, anthracite, and coal, until the station was definitively switched to gas in 1947. GES-2's boilers, turbines, and transformers were replaced several times with more modern, powerful variants, but each successive modernization became more difficult: there was simply no more room for large machinery at the station, to say nothing of the difficulties of having it delivered and installed. In 2016, the obsolete GES-2 was finally closed, and its duties transferred to the nearby Bersenevskaya substation.

The boiler room of the Central Power Plant
Photo: City railways. 1903-1911. Publication of Moscow town council. М., 1912