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.
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.
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.
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.
Utilised water flow
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.
The proposed Hvammur Hydropower Station will utilise the head from the Þjórsá River just above the farm Hagi and below Ölmóðsey Islet.
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.
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.
Utilised water flow
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.
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.
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.
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.