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In 2014, Landsvirkjun was in the process of assessing twenty potential power projects all over the country. The Master Plan ranks energy projects and divides them into three main categories: ‘appropriate for development’, ‘under consideration’, and ‘protected’, in accordance with Act No 48/2011 on the Conservation and Energy Utilisation Plan. The parliamentary resolution is expected to be reviewed on a four year basis, or less.

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The Master Plan Process

The Master Plan is a tool to assess which areas of Iceland should be conserved or utilised for energy generation. The Master Plan covers the main energy resources of the country and is designed to consider the often competing interests of energy utilisation and nature conservation, on a broad scale. Potential power projects are categorised as ‘appropriate for development’, ‘under consideration’ or ‘protected’ based on the assessment of professional working groups, commissioned by experts in various scientific fields.

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National Energy Authority Power project proposals assessed and passed on to the Steering Committee- can send in proposals on its own initiative Steering Committee for the Master Plan Prepares an advisory proposal for the categorisation of power project proposals and demarcates areas for protection and utilisation Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources Prepares a parliamentary resolution on the protection and utilisation of land areas Parliament Debate on the Minister's proposal and decision on the parliamentary resolution on the protection and utilisation of land areas Requests for new, amended and reviewed power projects can be sent in to the National Energy Authority every four years Review of proposed power project and development of new power projects Under consideration Appropriate for development Protected Environmental impact assessment Process to protect land areas Utilisation- or power development license denied Land area not protected Land becomes a protected area Utilisation- or power development license issued
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The second phase of the Master Plan

The parliamentary resolution on the protection and utilisation of land areas (Master Plan) was approved by the Icelandic parliament (Alþingi) in January, 2013. Landsvirkjun presented a number of potential power projects but the only projects categorised as ‘appropriate for development’ were small-scale hydropower stations along the Blanda Hydropower Station water channel.

Projects categorised as ‘under consideration’ included the Jökulsá River in Skagafjörður, Skjálfandafljót, in the lower regions of Þjórsá and in Skrokkalda (along the Kaldakvísl waterway between the Hágöngulón Reservoir and Kvíslaveita diversion). Two alternative proposals put forward by Landsvirkjun (in conjunction with Orkusalan) for the Hólmsá River were also placed in the under consideration category. The proposed power projects at Norðlingaalda, Tungnárlón and Tungnaá River (the Bjallavirkjun project) were placed in the protected category.

Three of the geothermal projects proposed by Landsvirkjun; the Bjarnarflag, Krafla and Þeistareykir power projects were placed in the appropriate for development category. The Hágöngur and Fremrinámar projects were placed in the under consideration category and the Gjástykki project was placed in the protected category.

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Third phase of the Master Plan

The new Steering Committee was given the priority task of completing a reassessment of potential power projects, amended by the ministries and parliament, after the prior Steering Committee completed their assessment, or where existing data had not been considered. Potential power projects that fulfilled these criteria included three power projects in the lower regions of the Þjórsá River previously re-categorised as ‘under consideration’ as a result of uncertainty with regard to the effects on salmon, a hydropower station by Skrokkalda and a geothermal station by Hágöngur which were re-categorised as ‘under consideration’ as a result of uncertainty with regard to the effects on the buffer zone in the Vatnjökull National Park and the Hólmsá power project and the Hagavatn power project (the latter is not under the auspices of Landsvirkjun).

The Steering Committee concluded that the potential power projects in the lower region of Þjórsá were the only projects viable for reassessment without re-commissioning new professional working groups (this could not be facilitated until the end of 2013). In March 2014, the Steering Committee put forward a proposal suggesting that the Hvammur Project should be moved to the appropriate for development category but that the Holta and Urriðafoss Projects should remain in the under consideration category.

A decision by the Icelandic parliament is expected during the spring session of parliament in 2015 but it is unclear just how the reassessment of the other power projects will be organised.

The Steering Committee put forward a proposal suggesting that the Hvammur Project should be moved to the appropriate for development category . A decision by the Icelandic parliament is expected during the spring session of parliament in 2015.

The National Energy Authority requested information from energy companies on potential power projects that they wished to put forward for the third phase of the Master Plan in November, 2013. Landsvirkjun revealed its decision to put forward twenty four potential power projects. Three of these were new projects; the utilisation of the Stóra Laxá River and two wind turbine projects, one in the Hafið area to the north of Búrfell and the second between Blöndulón Reservoir and the Blanda Hydropower Station.

Landsvirkjun also announced plans to produce new proposals for those projects categorised as under protection. Four of these proposals would focus on minimising the environmental impact of the Norðlingaöldu, Bjallavirkjun, Tungnárlón and Gjástykki projects. Data pertaining to the above-mentioned projects were handed in to the National Energy Authority at the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015.

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Power Projects in 2014

Bjallavirkjun

Hydropower

Capacity
46 MW
Energy Generation
340 Gwh/yr

Bjarnarflag

Geothermal

Capacity
45-90 MW
Energy Generation
369-738 Gwh/yr

Blönduveita

Hydropower

Capacity
31 MW
Energy Generation
194 Gwh/yr

Gjástykki

Geothermal

Capacity
135 MW
Energy Generation
1.107 Gwh/yr

Hágöngur

Geothermal

Capacity
135 MW
Energy Generation
1.107 Gwh/yr

Hólmsárvirkjun, Atley

Hydropower

Capacity
65 MW
Energy Generation
480 Gwh/yr

Holtavirkjun

Hydropower

Capacity
53 MW
Energy Generation
415 Gwh/yr

Hvammsvirkjun

Hydropower

Capacity
82 MW
Energy Generation
665 Gwh/yr

Norðlingaölduveita

Hydropower

Capacity
- MW
Energy Generation
605 Gwh/yr

Skatastaðavirkjun

Hydropower

Capacity
156 MW
Energy Generation
1.090 Gwh/yr

Skrokkölduvirkjun

Hydropower

Capacity
45 MW
Energy Generation
345 Gwh/yr

Stækkun Búrfellsvirkjunar

Hydropower

Capacity
- MW
Energy Generation
208 Gwh/yr

Stækkun Kröfluvirkjunar

Geothermal

Capacity
35-45 MW
Energy Generation
1.107 Gwh/yr

Stóra Laxá

Hydropower

Capacity
30-35 MW
Energy Generation
180 Gwh/yr

Þeistareykir

Geothermal

Capacity
90-180 MW
Energy Generation
738-1.476 Gwh/yr

Tungnaárlón

Hydropower

Capacity
- MW
Energy Generation
270 Gwh/yr

Urriðafossvirkjun

Hydropower

Capacity
130 MW
Energy Generation
980 Gwh/yr