Significant Events in 2013


Landsvirkjun is committed to becoming a leader in the sustainable utilisation of natural resources. The Company believes in a holistic approach in all its endeavours, from the design stage to the operational stage. Landsvirkjun seeks consensus on all new projects and is dedicated to operating its power stations to the highest standard. The sustainable utilisation of natural resources is a key value in all stages of development at Landsvirkjun in order to ensure energy generation in harmony with the environment and society.

Blanda Hydropower Station considered exceptional

In 2013, an assessment was carried out on the operations of the Blanda Hydropower Station, in accordance with the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP).

The results of the assessment showed that Blanda meets ‘Proven Best Practice’ in 14 out of 17 topics assessed using the Protocol. Blanda exceeds ‘Basic Good Practice’ on all 3 remaining topics, each of these with only one significant gap against proven best practice.

The protocol assessed 17 different topics, pertaining to the operation of Blanda, in order to assess the sustainability of the hydropower project when compared with international standards on sustainable development.

Two assessments have been carried out in Iceland using the Protocol and the results have been utilised in all of Landsvirkjun’s operations. An example of this is the complete review of working procedures, pertaining to communications and consultation, in the preparation of the potential Hvammur project. A comprehensive analysis of the environmental and societal impact of power stations in the Þjórsá Area is also under consideration.

Landsvirkjun will use the experience of the Blanda assessment to further improve all other areas of operation and to continue its support for the sustainable utilisation of natural resources.

Blanda is a 150 MW hydropower station in the northwest of Iceland and generates approx. 910 GWh, annually, for Landsnet’s transmission system. Blanda meets ‘Proven Best Practice’ in 14 out of 17 topics assessed using the Protocol.


Geothermal utilisation in the northeast of Iceland

Landsvirkjun has been involved in the development of geothermal stations in the Northeast of Iceland for a number of years. The Company’s next proposed projects are Bjarnarflag and Þeistareykir. Research has indicated that these geothermal areas could offer extensive opportunities.

Preparation measures for the geothermal power projects are based on decades of research on the ecosystem and society.

In 2013, Landsvirkjun developed a communication plan for stakeholders in the Northeast of Iceland to minimise uncertainty and to prevent any breakdown in communication between Landsvirkjun and its stakeholders. Research was conducted on the impact of geothermal utilisation on the warm groundwater streams flowing into Mývatn. Birdlife and vegetation monitoring continued and the spread of rare, high temperature tolerant vegetation was monitored at Bjarnarflag. Research was conducted on noise impact and work was carried out on disturbed land with the aim of returning it to its previous condition.

Results show that changes to the temperature and the chemical composition of groundwater in the Mývatn area can be traced back to the Krafla Fires between 1975 and 1984.

Landsvirkjun is committed to minimising the effects of the unavoidable disturbance to land during the construction of power stations. Two university students, studying architecture and landscape architecture, were involved in research projects for Landsvirkjun, in the northeast, with the objective of harmonising manmade structures with the landscape and the environment.

The project focused on landscaping disturbed land as a result of piping, borehole areas, borehole structures, mufflers and roads at the site of the potential power projects at Þeistareykir and Bjarnarflag.

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Wind energy is part of the future

To the north of Búrfell, is a lava field by the name of Hafið. Landsvirkjun has erected two turbines in the area, for research purposes. The wind turbines have been successfully operated since the end of January, 2013, and are the largest of their kind in Iceland.

This is the first time that the feasibility of wind energy has been investigated and there are clear indications that Iceland is an advantageous location for electricity generation, utilising wind power.


Wind turbine capacity in 2013

After nearly one year of operation, the average capacity factor for the wind turbines is approx. 40%, which exceeds all expectations. In comparison, the average capacity factor worldwide is approx. 28%.

*from the 21st of January.


Wind turbines, like all large manmade structures, have a visual impact on the surrounding environment. These effects can be reversed to a large degree as the wind turbines and their foundation can be easily dismantled, leaving little trace of their existence.

Landsvirkjun monitors and steers the environmental aspects of the operation of its wind turbines and its hydropower and geothermal power stations.

  • 1 Effects on the ecosystem

    All construction work carried out by Landsvirkjun and all its operations are accompanied by unavoidable disturbance to the natural environment and to the ecosystem. Extensive research and monitoring is carried out in the affected areas of power stations. The objective is to assess if and how operations affect the environment and how any negative impact on the environment can be minimised. The most extensive monitoring carried out by Landsvirkjun includes reindeer monitoring, freshwater ecology and birdlife. Research is carried out in cooperation with the various universities, research institutes and independent experts.
  • 2 Visual impact and landscaping

    All construction work carried out by Landsvirkjun and all its operations are accompanied by unavoidable disturbance to the natural environment and larger projects can have a significant visual impact. The effects vary and are determined by the type of landscape involved and the effect on the public. Landsvirkjun places an emphasis on creating a balance between its manmade structures, the landscape and the natural environment.
  • 3 Fuel

    Fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource and the burning of fossil fuel leads to the release of greenhouse gases (GHG‘s) and other substances that are a health risk. Landsvirkjun is committed to minimising the emission of GHG‘s by reducing the consumption of fossil fuels in its operations. Landsvirkjun also monitors the handling of fossil fuels ensuring that transport, storage and refuelling measures do not harm the ecosystem and the natural environment. Landsvirkjun registers all fossil fuel consumption in its operations and releases information on GHG emissions as a result of consumption.
  • 4 General waste

    The landfilling of waste results in the anaerobic decomposition of its organic content, emitting GHGs that contribute to climate change. Landsvirkjun is committed to increasing recycling and reuse in its operations which will reduce the quantity of waste disposed of via landfill. The Company is active in creating areas for waste sorting and waste storage in all of its operational areas and a record is kept on waste disposal.
  • 5 Noise levels

    Noise from Landsvirkjun’s operations primarily stems from active geothermal wells and from wind turbines. Noise levels can affect the enjoyment of nature and constant noise can have a detrimental effect on health. Landsvirkjun monitors noise levels and reduces noise by using mufflers/silencers on all well heads at its geothermal power stations.
  • 6 Disturbance to land as a result of development and operations

    Disturbance to the land as a result of development, construction and operations can have an effect on the ecosystem and the natural environment. Disturbance to land can be caused by material extraction, the construction and location of reservoirs, facilities construction and the construction of dams and waterways. Landsvirkjun is committed to keeping disturbance to the land to a minimum in all stages of development and finishing work is completed once construction work ceases in order to return the land to its former state.

In 2013, investigations on birdlife and flight patterns were conducted in the Hafið area. The results indicated that construction work, in connection with the wind turbines, would be the main cause of disturbance to nesting areas in the short-term. Further research will be carried out in the near future.

Landsvirkjun is involved in conducting further research within the Hafið area in order to increase their knowledge of the diverse environmental implications of developing wind farms. The research will assess visual impact, noise impact, and the ecosystem and will also place an emphasis on investigating those factors unique to Icelandic conditions such as icing, snowdrift and ash and sand drift.

The turbines are located in an isolated area and noise levels at the wind turbine site are drowned out by the sound of the river and wind.

Landsvirkjun has made the decision to assess the wind capacity at Hafið with more precision by using wind measurements and simulators. Research will be conducted on the effects on the environment, society, the feasibility of development and operations, and the opportunities in combining wind and hydropower.


On-site safety and environmental issues exemplary

A milestone was reached in Landsvirkjun’s history when construction was completed on the Búðarháls Hydropower Station. The Station is the sixth station to be constructed in the Company’s most extensive operational area, the Þjórsá and Tungnaá area.

On-site safety and environmental issues have been exemplary at Búðarháls since the project began development. Inspectors from Landsvirkjun and the contractors closely supervised the strict implementation of safety issues and the responsible treatment of the environment, on-site. The Fire Association in the Árnes Municipality was responsible for regular on- site training and held a large-scale, well attended rescue training exercise.


Head and power stations in the Þjórsá and Tungnaá area

The Búðarháls Hydropower Station utilises the 40 metre head in the Tungnaá River from the tailwater of the Hrauneyjafoss Power Station and to the Sultartangi Reservoir.


The Búðarháls area was constructed with minimal disruption when compared with utilising new areas. All concrete aggregates were sourced on-site, old quarries were re-used and land disturbance was minimised by channelling the water through a tunnel. Materials extracted from the tunnel were used to landscape the surrounding area and any submerged land was replaced by new re-vegetated land.

Construction work on Búðarháls was completed in 2013 and the summer will be spent completing work on the clean-up and landscaping of the areas around the Station’s structures. The Búðarháls Hydropower Station is an example of just how power stations can be constructed in harmony with the environment.

There have been 10 incidents since construction began, resulting in employee absences, but all employees made a full recovery.