When Wilhelm Lahmeyer and private Frankfurt bankers founded W. Lahmeyer & Co. on September 30, 1890, the era of an exceptionally gifted engineer began. His talents included not only pioneering technological ideas in the field of electrical generator and motor construction, where he rapidly made a name for himself, but also a well-developed business insight. At the time, he successfully applied financing principles which are in common international practice today.
Decisive for the founding of W. Lahmeyer & Co. was the discovery of electricity. The inventions of the pioneers in electrical engineering provided the basis for rapid industrialisation. However, in order to apply theoretical knowledge to practical operations, daring entrepreneurs such as Wilhelm Lahmeyer, who took every opportunity to advance in the field of electricity, were required.
Wilhelm Lahmeyer constructed power plants. The first power plant to be built by him was the Sadu I hydro-electric power plant near Sibiu in Romania, which went into operation in 1896. In Germany, one of the first power plants planned by him was constructed by the Elektrizitätswerk Bad Homburg in 1896. Wilhelm Lahmeyer was also involved in the construction of small isolated stations, i.e. decentralized power plants which were designed to provide electricity only to nearby housing blocks.
In addition to local electricity supply, Wilhelm Lahmeyer was also concerned with the problem of inter-regional electricity supplies. May 16, 1891, when the International Electrical Engineering Exhibition in Frankfurt am Main opened, was a significant date. For the very first time, alternating current was transmitted from a run-of-river hydroelectric power station on the Neckar River to Frankfurt. At the same time, with the help of a transmission line from Offenbach to the exhibition grounds in Frankfurt, Wilhelm Lahmeyer showed that direct current was also suitable for long-distance transmission. He thereby helped lay the foundations for the present-day high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission technology, by means of which electricity may be transmitted economically over great distances.
When he founded his company, Wilhelm Lahmeyer also started manufacturing power plant generators. At the same time, he produced electric motors which were used to transform electrical energy into mechanical energy. Wilhelm Lahmeyer's machines were among the most outstanding exhibits both at the International Electrical Engineering Exhibition in Frankfurt am Main and at the 1900 World Fair in Paris.
Over the following decades, the company founded by Wilhelm Lahmeyer expanded in the field of power plant engineering, whilst pursuing a variety of other activities. Increasingly, associated tasks such as construction design and planning, construction supervision and, if necessary, consulting services during plant operation gained in importance. Initially, interest focussed on hydroelectric power plants such as the run-of-river plants on the Lech and Moselle rivers, pumped storage plants in the Southern Black Forest, in Montafon, Vorarlberg and in Vianden, Luxemburg, and on similar plants abroad.
In order to enable further expansion, particularly abroad, the former Lahmeyer AG engineering services were incorporated into a new company in 1966, and Lahmeyer International GmbH (LI) was founded. Eight years later, the former Lahmeyer AG similarly transferred domestic business interests to the newly-founded Lahmeyer Ingenieur GmbH, which was then integrated into LI in 1979.
After this merger, Lahmeyer International GmbH expanded by diversifying into related fields of activity. Following in the footsteps of its founder, the company developed into an internationally successful independent engineering company for the development of infrastructure in fields of Energy, Hydropower and Water Resources, Water Supply and Wastewater Management as well as Building and Transportation.