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Iceland generates 99% of its electricity from renewable energy resources and Landsvirkjun generates two thirds of this electricity.

We operate 14 hydropower stations, two geothermal power stations and two wind turbines in five areas of operation, all over Iceland.

We believe in an integrated approach where prudence, reliability and the harmony of operations with the environment and society are fundamental to our operations.

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Hydropower: 12,910 GWh

The total energy generation of Landsvirkjun’s hydropower stations was approx. 12,910 GWh in 2016.

Landsvirkjun operates 14 hydropower stations all over Iceland, divided into four areas of operation. There are six power stations in the Þjórsá area, with a total of 18 generating units and a number of waterway structures. The area spans from the Hofsjökull Glacier and down to the Búrfell Hydropower Station. There are three power stations in the Sog area with a total of eight generating units and several waterway structures by the Þingvallavatn Lake and Úlfljótsvatn Lake.

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Landsvirkjun generated 13,291 GWh of electrical energy for the Landsnet transmission grid in 2016, a decrease of 2.2% when compared with figures for 2015.

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There are two power stations in Laxá, with two units in operation and a few waterway structures. The stations are operated in the Blanda area. The waterway at the Blanda Hydropower Station spans a length of 25 km and the station has a total of three units. 

The fourth operational area is the Fljótsdalur Hydropower station, the largest hydropower station in the country, with six generating units and extensive waterway structures including tunnels 70 km in length. The Station generated 5000 GWh this year or approximately 37% of Landsvirkjun's total generation.

Detailed information on the water balance can be found in the chapter on Natural Resources

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Hydropower accounts for approximately 96% of Landsvirkjun’s generation, and geothermal energy accounts for just 4%.

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Geothermal energy: 496 GWh

The total energy generation of Landsvirkjun’s geothermal power stations was 496 GWh in 2016.

We are committed to utilising geothermal energy in a sustainable and responsible manner. An integral part of this approach is maintaining the balance between the utilisation and the natural renewal of the geothermal reservoir. Separated hot water which is not utilised for electricity production is injected back into the geothermal reservoir.

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Landsvirkjun operates two geothermal power stations at Krafla and Bjarnarflag with a total of three generating units.

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Wind power: 5 GWh

Landsvirkjun operates two wind turbines for research purposes in an area called Hafið just to the north of the Búrfell Hydropower Station. Each turbine has an installed capacity of 0.9 MW. Operations have been successful this year with few interruptions. The turbines generated 5.3 GWh this year.

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Operation of power stations

The operation of Landsvirkjun’s power stations was successful throughout the year. There were 82 unforeseen interruptions in 2016, compared with 106 in 2015. Landsvirkjun's goal is to ensure that generating units in the power stations are available 99% of the year, not accounting for routine maintenance periods. Units were available 99.9% of the time this year which is the same availability as in 2015.

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The monitoring, maintenance and operation of power stations was routinely carried out throughout the year

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Landsvirkjun operates in accordance with an integrated, certified Quality Management and Environmental Safety Management System, based on ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and the Internal Electrical Safety Operation System (RÖSK), which fulfils the criteria set out by the Iceland Construction Authority on electrical safety issues. Landsvirkjun has been certified as a producer of green electricity by the German company TÜV SÜD who specialise in the certification of green electricity. In addition, the Company’s IT division’s safety management system is certified in accordance with ISO 27001.

More information on Landsvirkjun’s certified systems

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Investments in operating power stations

Maintenance is an integral part of Landsvirkjun’s operations. Two large refurbishment projects were carried out this year, at the Búrfell and Laxá Hydropower Stations. A total of 87 investment and renovation projects were carried out at power stations in 2016.

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Reconditioning generating unit 4 at the Búrfell Hydropower Station

Generating unit number 4 at the Búrfell Hydropower Station was reconditioned in the beginning of February 2016. The project was successful and the turbine came online, as scheduled, at the end of April. The runner, wicket gates, wicket gate bearings, main shaft seal and various smaller components were replaced. The stators for the generators were reconditioned, stator bars were replaced and the isolation and support systems were significantly improved. The turbine cooling system was also renewed.

Measurements show that the efficiency of the turbine was increased by 3–4% as a result of the reconditioning project and the generating unit's capacity thereby increased by 12 GWh/ year.

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The Búrfell extension history

The Búrfell Hydropower Station began operations in 1969. Proposals were put forward for an expansion of the station in 1990 alongside plans to expand the aluminium smelter at Straumsvík.

The design and tendering process was completed for an expansion of 100 MW (at another powerhouse in the same area) but the project was delayed as a result of the postponement of the expansion of the smelter.

During the same time period an assessment was carried out on the condition of the turbine equipment at the existing station as it was badly damaged by sand erosion - after twenty years of continuous operation. The damage was so extensive that the efficiency of the turbines had decreased substantially. Landsvirkjun decided to recondition the turbines and to renew the runner and wicket gates. Tenders for the project were released in 1995 and the most feasible bid was accepted. The most feasible bid included a substantial increase in turbine capacity which meant that the station could be upgraded by replacing other equipment in the power train. 

Increased capacity 1996–1998

The capacity of the station was increased between 1996 and 1998, when runners, wicket gates, stators for the generators and other related equipment was renewed. The installed capacity of the station increased from 210 MW to 270 MW and energy generation rose from 1,800 GWh to 2,300, an increase of 500 GWh, which is similar to the capacity of the Búðarháls Hydropower Station. This was the most economical project the Company had ever undertaken. The station has since then been running over its estimated capacity (up to 300 MW). This however resulted in cavitation damage to the turbines which has been repaired by welding.

In 2013, an annual inspection of turbine 4 revealed a crack in the turbine runner and a similar crack was discovered in turbine 5 in the following summer. The inspection revealed that the damage was caused by repeated welding work. Various solutions to the problem were subsequently assessed and a decision was eventually made to renew the runners as well as reconditioning the rest of the turbine parts. The opportunity was also used to carry out reconditioning of the generators.

Turbines reconditioned in 2018 and 2019

A window of opportunity will open for reconditioning work in the first few years after the expansion of Búrfell is completed in 2018. However, turbine 4 was reconditioned in 2016, due to its poor condition. The other turbines will be reconditioned in 2018 and 2019.

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Laxá III, work carried out on the intake structure and turbine

The first Laxá station began operations in 1939.

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Construction work began on the intake structure and turbine at Laxá III in May, 2016 and is expected to reach completion by February 2017.

The scope of the work on the intake reservoir, dam and tunnel intake, is extensive. The intake reservoir was deepened to reduce water velocity. A specialised sediment trap was installed in front of the tunnel intake structure, designed to flush out sand and gravel. Specialised ice skimming equipment was installed to remove ice from the intake reservoir, and the trash rack was modified to prevent stones and ice from entering the headrace tunnels for the station.

Repairs were carried out on the dam and intake tunnels. The runner, wicket gates, wicket gate bearings, main shaft seal and various smaller components were replaced in the turbine. Other parts of the turbine were repaired and surface treated.

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History of the development

The Laxá River runs from the Mývatn Lake and is 59 km in length. The river is usually divided into upper and lower river stretches; the upper stretch is 33 km in length and stretches from the lake to the canyons by Brúarfoss where the Laxá Station is located. The youngest station, Laxá Station III, began operations in 1973 and is located underground. The Laxá stations generate approx. 170 GWh per year (Laxá III generates 93 GWh of this energy). The design of the station initially included a substantial increase to the height of the intake reservoir dam. The current dam was built in 1939 for Laxá I but was never altered because of the environmental impact.

A number of problems have been associated with the operation of Laxá III as a result of the lower dam height. Ice problems and damage to the turbines have occurred because the head is different to the head that the station was designed for. The small size of the reservoir has also led to substantial sedimentation from the river entering the station’s turbines. These combined factors have resulted in damage to the turbine which has been repaired annually with welding work. The runner was replaced in 1993, after 20 years of operation.

Knowledge dissemination a key factor

There were clear indications several years ago that the runner from 1993 would not last for much longer. An assessment was completed on the possibility of reconditioning the turbine and carrying out modifications to the dam and intake structure (without a height increase) at the same time, with the aim of reducing the sand and ice problems. Norwegian and Icelandic experts on sediment traps were consulted. Design work was completed in the middle of 2015 and a decision was made to begin construction in 2016. Special attention was paid to presenting and discussing the project with the local community and those involved.