Power Plant ‘Intercom’

In the Belgian town of Monceau-sur-Sambre stands this huge power plant, built in 1921 by the company ‘Intercom’. It was one of the largest coal-powered power plants in Belgium. In the 60’s and 70’s the plant was expanded by adding a building equal in size containing a huge gas-powered generator. By then it was the main source of power for the Charleroi region. In 1990 three companies (Intercom, Unerg and Ebes) merged to form Electrabel.


The power plants of Electrabel gained a lot of negative publicity when it was made public that Electrabel caused 10% of the Co2 emission in Belgium. The coal fueled generators were shut down for good but the gas fueled part was kept on-hold for emergency situations. In 2007 the entire power plant was closed for good. Like often in Belgium, a security company was hired for some time to try to keep people out of the buildings but after some years it became too expensive. They left and the copper thieves took their chance; they started to gut the buildings of all valuable materials. Also, during weekdays people are slowly dismantling the site but it’s done in an extremely odd way; parts of the supporing structure are being removed causing the entire interior to be unstable. You can see insane things like warped floors and enormous steel beams hanging from a thread. While ascending a stairwell I noticed that it was compressed a couple of centimeters over the entire height of the building; there was a little fold in the steel structure on every floor. Several times I suddenly heard a loud bang by some steel part snapping under the pressure. Whoever these demolition people are, they are doing a dangerous job!

Ironically, I never wanted to visit this building because it was a bit ‘too fresh’ for my taste. In my photography I’m always looking for decay and post-apocalyptic scenes and though I generally dislike vandalism, the damage done by the copper thieves and/or rogue demolition companies had finally given this building a bit of a rough edge.