IM Cooling Tower Charleroi

I've read about the IM Power Plant years ago but never got around to visiting due to the considerable distance. Recently, while sorting through old photos, the urge to explore it resurfaced. After waiting for a rain-free weekend, today marked the perfect day for my 1.5-hour drive to Charleroi! Here's a glimpse of the cooling tower and its surroundings from my visit. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to explore the power plant across the water this time – perhaps on another time!

Built in 1921 in Charleroi, Belgium, the IM cooling tower was part of one of the country's largest coal-fired power plants, aiding industrial growth in the interwar period. Owned by Electrabel, it supplied electricity and heat to six million people and was the primary energy source for greater Charleroi by 1977.

Utilizing wind to cool water during production peaks, the tower could handle up to 480,000 gallons per minute. In the 1970s, the plant transitioned from coal to gas, expanding to six units with a total capacity of 1 GW by 1990, earning the unofficial title "Gigawatt Power Plant."

However, a 2006 Greenpeace report revealed the plant contributed to 10% of Belgium's CO2 emissions and harbored pathogenic bacteria, prompting its recognition as dangerous and non-convertible. In 2007, the plant ceased operations and was closed.