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The Búðarháls Hydropower Station is Iceland’s newest hydropower station and began operations on the 7th of March, 2014. The Station is located within the Þjórsá- and Tungnaá River water catchment area. The Station utilises the 40 metre head in the Tungnaá River from the tailwater of the Hrauneyjafoss Power Station to the Sultartangi Reservoir. The installed capacity of the Station is 95 MW and the generation capacity is estimated at 585 GWh/yr. The Búðarháls Hydropower Station is the 14th addition to Landsvirkjun’s fleet of hydropower stations.

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Iceland’s newest hydropower station

Every new hydropower station presents a unique set of challenges and our employees must become familiar with new equipment at each and every new station. The operations team at Búðarháls were trained by attending courses led by Voith Hydro, the manufacturer of the equipment at Búðarháls. A number of employees also took part in monitoring the instalment of equipment from day one. The correct training ensures that employees are able to respond correctly and swiftly to any failure or malfunction in the operation of the power station.

The total number of turbines in the Þjórsár- and Tungnaár River water catchment area is now 18, with a total installed capacity of 967 MW.

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Start-up at the Búðarháls Hydropower Station

The Búðarháls Hydropower Station, the newest hydropower station in Iceland, was officially started up by Mr Bjarni Benediktsson, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs and Ms Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir, Minister of Industry and Commerce at an official start- up ceremony on the 7th of March, 2014.

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Búðarháls Hydropower Station generated 518GWh/yr of energy in 2014. The Station’s generation capacity is estimated at 585GWh/yr.

Commencing operations at a new power station

Every new hydropower station presents a unique set of challenges and our employees must become familiar with new equipment at each and every new station. The operations team at Búðarháls were trained by attending courses led by Voith Hydro, the manufacturer of the equipment at Búðarháls. A number of employees also took part in monitoring the instalment of equipment from day one. The correct training ensures that employees are able to respond correctly and swiftly to any failure or malfunction in the operation of the power station.

All the electrical and mechanical equipment for the power station has performed well since the first day of operations and has fulfilled Landsvirkjun’s standards on safe operating practices. A minor adjustment was made to one of the turbine bearings after operations began but otherwise machinery and equipment has operated flawlessly. The generation capacity of the Station was 518GWh/yr in 2014 but is estimated at 585GWh/yr.

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Kaplan-turbine

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The diagram shows a cross-section of the Kaplan turbine at the Búðarháls Hydropower Station. There are two Kaplan turbines at the Station generating electricity from a large quantity of water with a relatively low head.

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Overview of the project

The Búðarháls Hydropower Station utilises the 40 metre head in the Tungnaá River from the tailwater of the Hrauneyjafoss Power Station to the Sultartangi Reservoir. The installed capacity of the Station is 95 MW.

Two earthfill dams were constructed at the Station, to the east of the Búðarháls ridge and a short distance upstream of the junction of the Tungnaá River and the Kaldakvísl River. One of the dams was built across the Kaldakvísl River and the other across the tailwater from the Hrauneyjafoss Power Station. The dams are both approximately 25 metres at their highest point and have a combined total length of 1400 metres. The two dams form the intake reservoir for the Station, which has been given the name Sporðaldalón (the Sporðalda Reservoir). The reservoir’s total surface area is approx. 7km2.

A headrace tunnel, approximately 4 km in length, conveys the water from the intake structure at the Sporðalda Reservoir, westward through the Búðarháls ridge, to a surge basin and intake structure above the Station. Two steel penstocks convey the water from the intake to the Station’s turbines. The powerhouse is mostly above ground, built into the western slope of the Búðarháls ridge. There are two generating units, each with an installed capacity of approx. 48MW.

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Búðarháls Hydropower Station

The Búðarháls Hydropower Station is one of six hydropower stations in the Þjórsa and Tungnaár water catchment area. Water is stored in the main reservoirs: Þórisvatn, Hágöngulón and Kvíslaveita. There are also smaller reservoirs by each power station. The intake reservoir for the Búðarháls Hydropower Station is the Sporðöldulón, which is 7km2. A 4 km tunnel channels water from the reservoir to the Station.

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Overview of the development

Construction work was mostly completed at Búðarháls in the last quarter of 2013 with the exception of finishing and clean-up work in contractor outdoor workshop areas by the dam and powerhouse sites.

The construction of the Búðarháls Hydropower Project took three years to complete or in fact approximately 40 months.

Construction began in October, 2010. The geological conditions in Búðarháls were challenging and delayed the construction of the tunnel by two to three months. Construction work was otherwise successful, safety matters were exemplary and cost estimates were met.

Turbine 1 was tested for a twenty-eight day trial period beginning on the 11th of January, 2014 and the trial period began on turbine two on the 8th of February. The turbines have been in operation on an almost continual basis since the trial periods started. Outdoor finishing work was completed during the summer of 2015 as well as the completion of surfacing work on access roads and parking areas surrounding the power station structures. Work on the area surrounding the Station should reach completion by the autumn of 2015.