Press Releases Archive

Nov 17 2009
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Development of Iceland’s Geothermal Energy Potential for Aluminium Production – A Critical Analysis


By Jaap Krater and Miriam Rose
In: Abrahamsky, K. (ed.) (2010) Sparking a World-wide Energy Revolution: Social Struggles in the Transition to a Post-Petrol World. AK Press, Edinburgh. p. 319-333

Iceland is developing its hydro and geothermal resources in the context of an energy master plan, mainly to provide power for expansion of the aluminium industry. This paper tests perceptions of geothermal energy as low-carbon, renewable and environmentally benign, using Icelandic geothermal industry as a case study.
The application of geothermal energy for aluminium smelting is discussed as well as environmental and human rights record of the aluminium industry in general. Despite application of renewable energy technologies, emission of greenhouse gases by aluminium production is set to increase.
Our analysis further shows that carbon emissions of geothermal installations can approximate those of gas-powered plants. In intensely exploited reservoirs, life of boreholes is limited and reservoirs need extensive recovery time after exploitation, making geothermal exploitation at these sites not renewable in the short to medium term. Pollution and landscape impacts are extensive when geothermal technology is applied on a large scale.

Krater and Rose – Development of Iceland’s Geothermal Energy – Download as PDF
The full publication will be available from Jan. 15, 2010. ISBN 9781849350051.

Aug 20 2009
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Sabotage on an Icelandic GMO Testing Field – No Harvest This Fall


The trashed field On Tuesday night or yesterday morning, a serious sabotage was done on a GMO testing field in Iceland. The field is owned by ORF Líftækni, a company that was experimenting with growing genetically modified barley for use in medical researches, the skin product industry and medicine development. According to the company’s CEO, Björn Lárus Örvar, all the barley was trashed, which means that the company will not get any harvest this coming fall. The financial loss runs on millions of Icelandic Krónur (ISK).

A group named Illgresi (Weeds) sent out a press release this morning, claiming responsibility for the action, saying:

On the 22nd of June 2009the bio-medical company ORF got permission for experimental planting of GMO medicinal barley in Gunnarsholt, Rángárvallarsýslu. These experiment´s would have paved the way for general planting of genetically modified plants in Iceland. All voices of criticism, both institutions and individuals are made suspect and the little media coverage has been homogeneous and in favour of ORF. Today this permission was revoked. The reasons are amongst others: Read More

Aug 12 2009

Saving Iceland Stops Work on Helguvík Smelter Site


Locked on to the gate of Helguvík This morning, 20 people from Saving Iceland stopped work on the Norðuál/Century’s smelter construction site in Helguvík. People locked on to three vehicle gates in to the site and therefor stopped all traffic in and out of it. People also locked on to machinery on the site so the work was stopped for at least two hours. The construction in Helguvík has to be stopped to prevent further destruction of wilderness by the damming of glacial rivers and geothermal areas, as well as the global impacts of aluminium production. 

Not so long ago, the government with Össur Skarphéðinsson (then Minister of Industry) in the front, made a special discount contract with Norðurál/Century, which was signed last Friday in the shadow of Saving Iceland’s green skyr throwing. (1) The contract includes financial support from the Icelandic state in the form of a tax discount that amounts to 16,2 million US dollars. Norðurál/Century is therefor free from paying industry fees, market fees and electricity safety fees as well as special rules will apply concerning stamp duty and planning fees, and about new taxes. (2)

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Aug 08 2009

The Police Roughs Up a Protester – The Media Helps Sustaining the Smear


Police Brutality Yesterday, Friday August 7th, Saving Iceland protested by the Ministry of Industry. At the same time inside the building, a financial contract was signed between the government and Norðurál/Century Aluminum, concerning the latter’s smelter in Helguvík. When the protest was about to end, the police showed up, arrested 5 individuals and aggressively roughed up one of them. Most of the media has spoken about the event but not mentioned the police brutality at all. Instead, the media has unsparingly published the police’s smear about us: that a policeman was kicked in the head and that we threatened the police with iron sticks, without any evidence showing that anything like this ever took place. Saving Iceland rejects these accusations and renounces the media’s one-sided reports.

The contract that was signed today includes state support for the aluminium smelters in the form of a tax discount that amounts to 16,2 million US dollars – two billion Icelandic krónur – and gives Norðurál/Century exemptions from paying industry fees, market fees and electricity safety fees. Special rules will also apply concerning stamp duty and planning fees, and about new taxes. The emission permits that are now valid permit a 150 thousand ton smelter in Helguvík; the Environmental Impact Assessment permits 250 thousand tons, but Century/Norðurál plans to build a 360 thousand ton smelter and today’s contract gives the company the right to do so. (1) The energy for the smelter has not been found and Svandís Svarvarsdóttir, the minister of environment has officially said that enough energy to run the smelter does not exist in the Reykjanes peninsula. (2) At the same time, Katrín Júlíusdóttir, the minister of industry, has agreed with ideas about Landsvirkjun selling energy from the planned dams in Þjórsá river to Helguvík. (3) Read More

Aug 06 2009

Saving Iceland Targets Alcoa – The Only Way to Real Changes Lies in the Protection of Nature!


Alcoa's Office Green Last Tuesday, August 4th,  Saving Iceland targeted the aluminium producer Alcoa. We knocked on the doors of the company’s office by Suðurlandsbraut but nobody answered, so the green skyr (traditional dairy product – historical for being used in protests) and other filthy stuff we had, ended up on the door, walls and the floor in front of the office. Compared to Alcoa’s role in the destruction of Iceland’s wilderness and other environmental and human crimes across the globe, this was a minimum punishment.

Though Alcoa’s aluminium smelter in Reyðarfjörður (east of Iceland) is now working with full force, driven on by the highly critical Kárahnjúkar Dam, there is still a fair reason for attacking the company. The smelter in Reyðarfjörður was the beginning of the heavy industry madness, the first sign of how effect the government’s advertisement campaign about the country’s cheap energy and people’s little as no resistance, was. (1) The smelter in Reyðarfjörður was the ball the pushed forward the idea that aluminium production is the premise for life. After the construction of the Kárahnjúkar Dam, all other energy projects look so small that only very few people seem to see a reason for fighting against them. And the police’s mistreatment towards those who dared to put their feet in between the construction, did for sure not encourage many to continue the resistance.  Read More

Aug 05 2009

Wilderness Doesn’t Need Design – HRV’s Office Needs a New Style!


Wilderness Does Not Need Design In the night of July 30th, HRV’s headquarters were attacked because of its part in the destruction of the Icelandic wilderness.

HRV is a company that holds serious responsibility for the destruction of wilderness – not less then the aluminium and energy companies. On its website, the company proudly states that it is “one of the leading project management and consulting engineering companies within the primary aluminium production sector.” HRV has taken part in the construction process of Alcoa’s, Rio Tinto-Alcan’s and Century Aluminum’s smelters here in Iceland, as well as the Kárahnjúkar power plant. The company’s work of engineering and designing has according to itself “added some 700,000 tpy [ton per year] of primary aluminium production capacity to the world market.”  Read More

Aug 03 2009

“Dear Iceland: Fuck You! Yours Truly, Aluminium” – Banner Drop on the Biggest Church in Iceland


Hallgrímskirkja Dear Iceland(ers).

This morning we, the Aluminium Industry, hung a banner on Hallgrímskirkja (the biggest church in Iceland) to finally express cleary what we have been trying to tell you all of the time. We decided that the methods of greenwashing and manipulation are no longer needed, since we obviously managed to convince you already about the glory of heavy industry. 

We wanted the Icelandic Nation to fully understand, that we don’t care about anything else than our own advantages and of course our profit. We don’t care about the impacts of our actions, on people here in Iceland or elsewhere in the world. Many lives, human and non-human, have been effected by our work all over the globe:

  • Whole tribes of indigenous people have lost their lives and/or livelihoods through a cultural genocides caused by our projects; bauxite mining, alumina refining, aluminium production, and transportation between continents. (1) (2)
  • Earth-damage and pollution are constantly increasing as we keep trying to fulfill our never satisfying greed. 
  • Due to our major role in warfare and the military industry many people could feel the impact of aluminium on their own bodies… (3)
  • We do not take responsibility for any of these things. (4) Read More

Jul 29 2009

Why Does Saving Iceland Not Discuss With the Minister of Industry?


Shortly after the news about how Saving Iceland closed the offices of institutions and companies involved in the heavy industrialization of Iceland, Katrín Júlíusdóttir, the Minister of Industry said that she had not been able to study the message of Saving Iceland. She said that she had not received a written report from the group and not decided to contact it, but said that she takes a look at all factual comments that she receives. (1)

This is a typical answer for a politician or a corporation’s worker when his/her job is criticized. It is impossible to keep track of how many times Saving Iceland has been offered to sit down and chat with the spokespersons of companies like Landsvirkjun (Iceland’s national energy company) and political parties’ representatives. The purpose with these invitations to meetings is of course only to create a positive image of the corporation or the institution and give the idea that conversation and information are necessary parts of the business. When Saving Iceland has refused these offers, the movement has been stamped as non-factual and with a lack of knowledge, e.g. last summer when Landsvirkjun’s director, Friðrik Sophusson said the Saving Iceland was only asking for attention by acting like clowns. (2)

Katrín Júlíusdóttir knows just as well as Friðrik Sophusson what Saving Iceland’s message and aims are, and thus does not have to ask herself why the group did not wish to meet up with her. Environmentalists in Iceland – including Saving Iceland – have for years explained their resistance towards the heavy industrialization of Iceland with powerful information campaigns, publishing magazines and pamphlets, keeping up websites etc. etc. Most of Saving Iceland’s actions have been followed up with comprehensive press releases, including inconvenient facts about the companies that have to do with the heavy industrialization and information about the serious effects of aluminium production. These press releases have e.g. lead to the fact that the media coverage about the issue has widened. An example of that is the media coverage on the effects of bauxite mining and the aluminium companies’ connection and co-operation with arms producers and war institutions. (3) Read More

Apr 25 2009

‘Green’ Deception Flops – A Statement from Saving Iceland Regarding Skyr Splashings of Election Offices


Kosningaskrifstofur Sjálftöku, Samfylkingar og Framsóknarflokks baðaðar skyri á sama degi 20 apríl 2009 Olafur Pall Sigurdsson

Saving Iceland applauds the symbolic hits that the three pro-heavy industry political parties were dealt in the form of liberal splashes of green skyr (traditional Icelandic dairy product) on Monday.

According to Saving Iceland’s sources, three different groups, not just one, like the corporate media have claimed, did these actions almost simultaneously. Saving Iceland has also been informed that the activists were all Icelandic. It appears that this is a powerful group of activists, fighting the heavy industrialization of Iceland. Saving Iceland declares full support with the group.

The forces that stand behind Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn (Conservatives), Framsóknarflokkurinn (Right-wing opportunists) and Samfylkingin (New Labour equivalents), are guilty of what is tantamount to high treason with their heavy industry policy. Judging from their election propaganda, there is no sign that the parties have been willing to learn anything from the economic collapse about the expansion effects on the economy by heavy industry.

At the same time as these parties’ policy of uncontrollable greed has been pursued with the consequences of immense irreversible destruction of the country’s unique nature, this policy has just as much harmed Icelandic society as a whole. Read More

Oct 23 2008

Century Stops Investment in Helguvik Smelter


A Century Of Warcrimes Is Not Sustainable Century Aluminum announced in a statement it is reconsidering the planned smelter in Helguvík. It said it has stopped making any new capital commitments due to the global financial crisis.

“In the current environment, we have ceased making any new capital commitments and are reducing project spending. We believe the potential exists for a prudent way forward over time, but will soberly evaluate the feasibility of all elements of the project during the near term,” (1) said Logan Kruger, Century’s CEO.

While Century Aluminum’s revenue for the third quarter of 2008 rose due to an increase in aluminium shipments (2), prospects were deemed less rosy. Merrill Lynch downgraded Century Aluminum’s investment rating to ‘underperform’. It said aluminium pricing is weak, inventories of the metal are high and there are little catalysts to drive the price up.

“Some might think this is bad news for Iceland and that a new smelter could help with the economic crisis. But when we looked at what happened with Alcoa Fjardaal and Karahnjukar, a cancellation of Helguvik may be a blessing in disguise,” says Saving Iceland’s Jaap Krater. Read More