'Landsvirkjun' Tag 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.

Sep 16 2009

Environmentalism is Not Prosperity Politics!


By Snorri Páll Jónsson Úlfhildarson, originally published in Morgunblaðið – After last autumn’s economical collapse, the discussion about environmental issues changed rapidly. Politicians who before spoke with full force against further energy- and heavy industry projects have now completely turned around, with the premises that environmentalism is prosperity politics. The head of the Left Green party recently called the party’s environmental policy puritanical and said that it does not apply in times of economical depression. The last fortress must then be fallen – at least amongst those who believe in reforms inside the representative democracy.

Now the plan is to push through an aluminium smelter in Helguvík with all its appropriate energy construction. Svandís Svavarsdóttir, the minister of environment, recently said that there is not enough energy on the Reykjanes penisula to fulfill the smelter’s energy needs. Others have pointed out that harnessing the geothermal areas there will be such a massive attack that the areas will most likely dry up in a short time. Katrín Júlíusdóttir, the minister of industry, has stated her positive opinion about Landsvirkjun producing energy for Helguvík – and the Þjórsá river comes immadeatly up to one’s mind. She also seems to be willing to renew the memorandum of understanding between the government and Alcoa, which according to the latter’s plans means that the whole geothermal areas in north-east Iceland have to be harnessed and dams built in one or more glacial rivers. Read More

Aug 12 2009

Saving Iceland Stops Work on Helguvík Smelter Site


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)

Read More

Aug 08 2009

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


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 02 2009

Friðrik Sophusson’s House Targeted With Paint and Glue


This afternoon, Saving Iceland received a letter and photos from a group titled A.S.Ö. According to the letter the group targeted the house of Friðrik Sophusson, the director of Landsvirkjun (Iceland’s national energy company) with paint and glue. The letter is here in full length:

We want our lives back. Our freedom. Our wilderness.

We decide not to delegate to others what we believe is necessary to be done. We take the responsibility of our acts against those who are destroying and poisoning the Earth.

Thinking that someone else than you will act or that nothing can be changed, is still a choice that has consequences. We can choose between oiling the destructive machine of this society or to be the sand that blocks it!

The individual responsibility is the reason why we hit personally those who are at the head of capitalistic companies as Landsvirkjun. In the name of money and power, Landsvirkjun has actively destroyed the Icelandic wilderness. Company’s director does not change personality between his work and home. He stays the same. He is as responsible on both sides.

In the night of July 27th, we went to the house of Friðrik Sophusson, the director of Landsvirkjun. We blocked his doors with glue and threw green paint all over the walls.

Never forget that the night is on our side!

A.S.Ö.

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

Jul 08 2009

Landsvirkjun’s Credit Rating in the ‘Trash’ – The Company Owes 250 Million Dollars


The company Standards and Poors, which evaluates company’s credit rating, has lowered Landsvirkjun (Iceland’s national energy company) down to a category usually known as “the Trash”, due to Landsvirkjun’s constantly worsening financial situation. This means e.g. that the company will face serious problems when trying to get loans for new and upcoming projects. In announcement from Landsvirkjun, Stefán Pétursson, the company’s financial director, says that the lowered position will not have any impacts on the company’s already existing loans.

This is for the first time when Landsvirkjun’s credit rate is lower then the Icelandic state’s rate. According to Bloomberg, Landsvirkjun has to pay 250 million dollars (32 billion ISK) this year and the next one, as payments of loans and bonds, as well as paying interests.

The 19th of June this year, Landsvirkjun and the Icelandic state signed a contract, which states that if Landsvirkjun is in a lack of finance to pay their costs because of loans, the Central Bank will give the company money in exchange of Icelandic Krónur or bonds. The contract is valid for two years and with it, Landsvirkjun has access to 300 million dollars.

May 10 2009

Don’t Thank Icelanders For Iceland


Given the chance, we’d have made it into Murmansk

From The Reykjavík Grapvine – Dreamland is the result of collaboration between documentary filmmaker Þorfinnur Guðnason and author, playwright and poet Andri Snær Magnason. It is based on the latter’s best selling, award winning 2006 non-fiction book, ‘Dreamland: A self-help manual for a Frightened Nation’ (available in English translation through Amazon.co.uk and at local bookstores). The book stirred a lot of controversy in Iceland, as it shed new light on some of the issues surrounding the conflict between environmental preservation and the build up of heavy industry in Iceland. It furthermore examined the government’s hope to sell cheap energy from hydroelectric power plants in order to place Iceland among the world’s biggest aluminium manufacturers – and why on Earth we’d aspire to that.

The film goes even further, using the full potential of the medium to conjure up a truly chilling vision of recent events. And it’s effective. As we exited a screening of the film, my friend Geiri summarised the experience perfectly, saying: “Most of the time, I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or vomit in disgust.” That somehow says it all. A scathing indictment of Iceland’s recent “all in” industrial and environmental policies, Dreamland combines archival news footage, exquisite nature shots and select interviews to achieve its goal of waking Icelanders up to the very real, very serious consequences of selling off some of the last bits of pristine wilderness remaining in Europe. Read More

Apr 25 2009

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


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

Apr 07 2009

Iceland Attacked by Economic Hitmen


John Perkins, the author of The Confessions of an Economic Hitman, is currently in Iceland. Perkins is here to be at the premier screening of The Dreamland, a documentary based on Andri Snær Magnason’s book, also titled The Dreamland. Last Sunday, Perkins was interviewed in a political TV show on RÚV (the state television station) where he spoke about the threat of Icelandic resources being sold to foreign corporations and advised Icelandic authorities not to collaborate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Perkins used to work for the U.S. National Security Agency and his job included “to convince poor countries to accept enormous development loans – and to make sure that such projects were contracted to U.S. companies,” as says on the back cover of his book. Perkins states that Iceland is the first ‘developed’ country in the world to be hit by the ‘Economic Hitmen’, referring to the invasion of the aluminium industry in Iceland. Read More

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