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Landsvirkjun is exploring a number of potential power projects all over the country. These projects are at varying stages within the preparation and authorisation process which involve a detailed feasibility and environmental study. There is also a long-term planning and authorisation process during which institutions, stakeholders and the public are given the opportunity to provide feedback during the various stages of each project. Good quality information is essential for preparing the initial power project layout to ensure minimum environmental impact.

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The next potential power projects

The potential power projects in the most advanced stages of preparation include the Þeistareykir Geothermal Power Project in the northeast of Iceland, the expansion of the Búrfell Hydropower Project in Þjórsá and the Hvammur Hydropower Project in the lower region of Þjórsá. Detailed information on the Þeistareykir project can be found in the chapter Þeistareykir Station.

Detailed information on all potential power projects can be found on the Company website.

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The expansion of Búrfell

The expansion of Búrfell would mean maximising the utilisation of water flow in the Þjórsa River by Búrfell. The utilisation of energy from the water flow of the Þjórsá River at Búrfell is presently 86%, where approx. 410 GWh/yr runs past the station over the spillway.

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    The Búrfell Hydropower Station is Landsvirkjun’s oldest hydropower station and construction began on the project in Landsvirkjun‘s first year of operations, in 1965. The Þjórsá River is harnessed at Búrfell and a tailrace tunnel runs from the Bjarnarlón Reservoir to the powerhouse located in the Þjórsárdalur Valley. Búrfell is the second largest station in Landsvirkjun’s fleet, generating 270 MW of renewable energy.
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    Plans include the construction of a new underground powerhouse at Sámstaðaklif. Other civil structures needed for the expansion as well as the intake reservoir, are already part of the current Búrfell Hydropower Station. The tailwater would be channelled along a tailrace canal approx. 2,100 metres in length and would merge with the tailwater from the current station.
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Plans include the construction of a new underground powerhouse at Sámstaðaklif. Other civil structures needed for the expansion as well as the intake reservoir, are already part of the current Búrfell Hydropower Station.

The water needed for the expansion would be sourced from the intake reservoir at the Búrfell Hydropower Station (Bjarnalón) and the same head would be utilised for the expansion. A headrace canal would be excavated from the intake reservoir and to the power station’s intake structure. The tailwater would be channelled along a tailrace canal approx. 2,100 metres in length and would merge with the tailwater from the current station. The estimated installed capacity of the new station would be 100 MW (one turbine) but plans include the option of further expanding the station by anything up to 40 MW.

The expansion of Búrfell would increase the energy capacity of the electricity network by about 300 GWh/yr due to the utilisation of flow that is currently spilled and due to lower hydraulic losses in the new expanded station relative to the existing one.

The results of the Icelandic Planning Agency’s assessment showed that the expansion of Búrfell would not have a significant environmental impact and its development would therefore not be dependent on further environmental assessment.

The Municipality of Skeiða- og Gnúpverjahreppur has confirmed the amendments to the regional planning proposal. Preparation work on engineering aspects of the project was carried out in 2014. Preparation work includes project design, project specifications, risk assessment and a value engineering study. The facility is expected to commence operations in 2018.

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Main parameters:

Utilised head

119.2m

Utilised water flow

92m3/s

Capacity

100MW

Generation capacity

300Gwh/yr
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Preparation for the Hvammur Hydropower Project

Category: Under consideration

Landsvirkjun has been involved in research and preparation measures for projects in the lower region of the Þjórsá River, below the Búrfell Hydropower Station, for years. There are currently three potential power projects under consideration: The Hvammur Hydropower Station is furthest upstream followed by Holta Hydropower Station and finally Urriðafoss Hydropower Station.

Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA’s) were carried out for all three of the proposed projects, as well as project design work, between 2001 and 2003. The Icelandic Planning Agency approved the proposed power stations on the grounds that certain conditions would be fulfilled. A review of the EIA’s will be necessary; to assess any changes to their initial parameters, as ten years have passed since the approval was given.

The proposed power projects in the lower Þjórsá region were initially categorised as ‘appropriate for development’ in the first parliamentary resolution, submitted to the Icelandic Parliament (Alþingi) as a result of the 2nd phase of the Master Plan for Hydro and Geothermal Energy Resources. However, the project was subsequently moved to the ‘under consideration’ category after an open debate and a final parliamentary resolution from Alþingi, approved in January, 2013. In accordance with the recommendation of the Steering Committee for phase three of the Master Plan, the Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources has submitted a proposal to Alþingi to move the Hvammsvirkjun project back to the ‘appropriate for development’ category. The proposal is under consideration by the Industrial Affairs Committee and a decision is expected during the spring session of parliament in 2015.

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    The proposed Hvammur Hydropower Station will utilise the head from the Þjórsá River just above the farm Hagi and below Ölmóðsey Islet.
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    The intake reservoir for the Station will be named Hagalón, formed by a dam over the Þjórsá River channel. The dam will be 450 m in length and 16 m high. The reservoir will run alongside the Þjórsádalur Road which will be partly reconstructed.
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The intake reservoir for the Hvammur Hydropower Station (the Hagalón Reservoir) is formed by a dam over the Þjórsá River situated above the Minnanúpshólmi islets and by dykes along the eastern banks of the river. The powerhouse will be mostly underground, located near the north end of the Skarðsfjall Mountain, on the estate of the Hvammur Farm in the Landsveit area. Two 270 metre long penstocks will carry water from the intake structure by Hagalón to the power station. The water runs through an underground tunnel and subsequently an open canal to the Þjórsá River, below Ölmóðsey Islet.

Landsvirkjun has implemented mitigation measures to minimise the negative impact of further harnessing on fish stock in the Þjórsá River.

Design work on the Hvammur Hydropower Project included a fish ladder to ensure the migration of salmon up-river. A Juvenile Fish Bypass System will also be installed above the intake structure of the station. The top layer of incoming water is steered past the station’s intake structure and into the Þjórsa River channel along a specialised slide/chute. The bypass system prevents juveniles from entering the turbines and sustaining injury. Model investigations show the bypass system to be effective.

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Main parameters:

Utilised head

32m

Utilised water flow

352m3/s

Capacity

93MW

Generation capacity

735Gwh/yr
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The Hvammur Hydropower Station has been approved for the regional planning proposal by the Municipalities Skeiða- and Gnúpverjahreppur and Rangárþing ytra. Most of the disturbance pertaining to the construction of the station will affect the farm Hvammur.

The arrangements for structures in the area have been planned in cooperation with the owners of the farm. Design specifications for the project are now at the final stage. The next step will depend on the decision made by Alþingi with regard to a change of category within the Master Plan and the decision made by the Icelandic Planning Agency on the need for any review of the EIA.

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Other proposed projects under preparation

Landsvirkjun is in the process of assessing over twenty potential power projects all over the country. Other potential power projects already advanced in preparation include the Bjarnarflag geothermal project, the expansion of Krafla, the Hólmsá hydropower project, small power stations along the Blanda Hydropower Station river channel and wind farms above Búrfell.

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The new Bjarnarflag Geothermal Power Station

Appropriate for development

Geothermal steam has been utilised for industrial applications in Bjarnarflag to the east of Lake Mývatn, since 1963 and the 3 MW Bjarnarflag Geothermal Power station has generated electricity since 1969. Landsvirkjun has operated Bjarnarflag Power station since 1983. Research has revealed extensive opportunities for the increased, sustainable utilisation of geothermal resources. Landsvirkjun is now planning the careful development of the Bjarnarflag Geothermal Power Station in two separate 45 MW phases. The initiation of a second phase will only be decided once the experience of operations in the first phase has been considered.

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Bjarnarflag in Mývatnssveit

Research results show that the area is a good option for further utilisation of the geothermal resource. Furthermore, the results of the geothermal resource analysis indicate that the first phase (a 45 MW station) would in fact be sustainable and that the area could be further utilised.

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The natural environment in Mývatn is unusual and Landsvirkjun is therefore committed to proceeding with the utmost caution with regard to any development in the neighbouring vicinity of the lake. Extensive environmental research and monitoring has been conducted in the area for a number of years, both in connection with current operations at Bjarnarflag and the new station.

Developing the Bjarnarflag Geothermal Power Station in phases will minimise risks associated with the project. The experience gained from phase one will be analysed and the decision to expand will be determined by the outcome.

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Review of the EIA

Preparation work for the increased utilisation of Bjarnarflag began in 1992. The National Planning Agency approved the development of the project after an assessment of the EIA. Preparation work has been carried out in accordance with the results of the EIA and the decision of the National Planning Agency and tender design work has been completed.

In 2014, ten years had passed since the National Planning Agency made their decision. In accordance with the regulations, pertaining to environmental assessment, Landsvirkjun requested that the Icelandic National Planning Agency reach a decision on the need for a partial or complete review of the initial environmental assessment. Landsvirkjun consulted the expertise of an independent body to assess the need for a review of the EIA. The results showed that a complete review of the EIA would not be necessary but indicated that there had been an insubstantial assessment of the ‘seismic hazard’ risk.

The National Planning Agency released their decision on the 7th of November calling for an extensive review of environmental factors for a 90 MW Bjarnarflag Geothermal Power Station.

Landsvirkjun believes that the National Planning Agency did not consider the altered implementation plans for a 45 MW station instead of a 90 MW station which should have significantly influenced the final decision. Furthermore, the National Planning Agency did not seem to accept the expert opinion of many of the professional institutions it consulted.

A detailed review of the National Planning Agency’s findings has been carried out by Landsvirkjun and it is Landsvirkjun’s opinion that the criteria for the power station project has not significantly changed. This corresponds with the review of the various professional institutions.

Landsvirkjun believes that the National Planning Agency’s decision is an onerous government based decision. Landsvirkjun has therefore decided to refer the decision on the assessment report on the Bjarnarflag project to the ruling committee for environmental and natural resources issues.

Detailed information on the potential Bjarnarflag power project, the EIA report and the history of the area can be found in Landsvirkjun’s Environmental Report for 2014.

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Power stations located in the Blanda Hydropower Station river diversion

Appropriate for development

An important milestone was reached in the preparation of three small-scale hydropower stations, along the river diversion of the Blanda Hydropower Station, when the National Planning Agency returned its verdict on the EIA on the 30th of October. Subsequently, the project design for the project was completed and changes to the regional development plan for the mid-highlands were evaluated. The presentation plan for these changes was also developed. The three stations carry the working titles Kolkuvirkjun, Friðmundarvirkjun and Þramarvirkjun.

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Wind farms

In 2014, the project design and EIA on wind farms in the area often referred to as Hafið were under development. The area is 34 km2 and is located to the north of Búrfell.

The scoping document and preliminary report were completed by the spring of 2014 and a number of research projects were subsequently initiated. A comprehensive birdlife research project was conducted by Icelandic and Danish experts and the effect of wind turbines on tourism and the local community was also assessed in cooperation with the University of Iceland.

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Hólmsá Hydropower Project

Under consideration

The reassessment of preliminary design work on the Hólmsá Hydropower Project was completed this year but work on the EIA was slowed down as a result of the uncertain status of the project within the Master Plan. However, it became clear in the autumn that the steering committee would not discuss the project despite the terms of reference of the Minister. Data was therefore sent to the National Energy Authority for the third phase of the Master Plan.

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The expansion of the Krafla Geothermal Power Station

Appropriate for development

The premise for the expansion of the Krafla Geothermal Power Station is the utilisation of energy-rich geothermal fluid from the deeper section of the Krafla system. However, the fluid is at a higher temperature than detected elsewhere and is affected by gas types that can under certain conditions cause corrosion in wells. The utilisation of the deeper system requires extensive research. The Iceland Deep Drilling Project has conducted research on IDDP-1, a deep drilling well, since 2010. An assessment of the potential energy reserve of the deeper system has been completed and preliminary results show that there could be more thermal energy than previously thought. Further research in the area will be completed before any decision is made on further action.