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The three spades in the municipal coat of arms for Modalen are sand spades. Sand quarrying has brought income and employment. As much as 70,000-80,0000 tonnes of sand and gravel left the municipality each year since the turn of the millennium, to be used as cementing sand. Why is Modalen endowed with so much sand?
In 1923 Bergenshalvøens Kommunale Kraftselskap (BKK) expropriated large areas for power plants and development of hydropower started soon afterwards. Dale power station with the two first aggregates, each of 14 MW was put into operation on 17 November 1927. In the supply reservoir in Storefossen 5152 cubic metres of concrete were cast, and a modern and well-equipped power station was built.
Water discharge at the outlet of the Ekso into Eidsfjord was halved after the big hydropower development in the mountainous area between Modalen and Eksingedalen and further southward toward Evanger in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. In an attempt to amend the changed environmental conditions in the waterway the developer built 35 small dams in the river.
The large coastal waves that crash down on the islands west in the sea gather their energy from storms and winds all the way out in the North Atlantic Ocean. The most common place of origin is nonetheless the North Sea. When these waves break over the skerries and islets along the shore, or on the rocky outermost islands, their energy is released. This takes the form of turbulence in the water and sea spray up on land. Can the enormous energy contained in the waves be exploited?
Much rain, a steep drop and nearness to Bergen meant that the power-making potential of the Samnanger water system was exploited early. Samnanger was thus one of the first power-producing municipalities in western Norway. With its subsequent expansion and new power stations, about 400 gigawatts of electricity per hour were produced on average each year. This is enough to meet the energy needs of 25,000 households.
Today Tyssedal appears like a classical industrial community, a picture of modern Norway from the turn of the former century until today. A/S Tyssefaldene was established in 1906, and on 1 May 1908 Tyssedal power station was put into operation. The work on the first stage of the facility was completed in a short time, with a work force of 500 men. They built water tunnels, regulation reservoirs, power station, penstocks, harbour, cableways, office buildings, houses and 6 km of power lines in the wild mountains above Odda to provide the new melting plant with power.
As early as 1906 the Matre and Haugsdal waterway was bought up by the businessman Blauuw from Bergen; the first “waterfall speculator” in the Matre area. He immediately resold it to Fr. Hiorth, who transferred all the rights to the company Matrefaldene in 1908. Behind A/S Matrefaldene were German interests, Badische Anilin und Sodafabrik, which wanted to start production of saltpetre fertilizer with nitrogen and electricity.