The museum of energy that occupies two former power stations at Ponferrada, 114 km. west of Léon in northern Spain has been described as one of the jewels of Spain’s industrial heritage, and won an award from Europa Nostra in 2012.
The Minero Siderurgica de Ponferrada power station (or Thermal Central MSP) was built in 1920, expanded on several occasions until its output reached 13,000 Kw by 1950, and closed in 1971. The displays within the building use the equipment that was in operation until 1971 to show how electric power is generated from coal.
The Compostilla I power station operated between 1947 and 1974, and the museum employs its buildings to highlight various issues concerning energy, particularly the ways in the search for sources of energy affects the economy and the politics of the whole world. A new installation features global warming and demonstrates various means of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide. The project has many of the features of an ecomusum and some 200 former employees at the power station have been engaged in setting up and delivering the interpretation schemes.
A third thermal power station at Ponferrada, Compostilla II, is still operating and can be visited. It has operated with coal but some parts of the plant are being adapted to burn natural gas.