'Helguvík' Tag Archive

Jun 10 2011
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Increased Sulphur Pollution in Reykjavík Due to Geothermal Expansion in Hellisheiði


The Public Health Authority of Reykjavík is highly critical of the recently published preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for a 45 MW construction of geothermal power plants at Gráuhnjúkar on Hellisheiði. The reason is that the EIA, carried out by engineering firm Mannvit, hardly mentions the possible effects of the project’s sulphur pollution on the human population living in the capital area of Reykjavík. “They mention the impacts of increased amount of hydrogen sulphide at the power plant area, but hardly mention the capital area where a high proportion of the population lives” said Árný Sigurðardóttir from the Public Health Authority in an interview with newspaper Fréttablaðið. The power plant in Hellisheiði is only about 30 km away from Reykjavík.

Since October 2006 Orkuveita Reykjavíkur (Reykjavík Energy) has produced geothermal energy on Hellisheiði, predominantly for the Norðurál/Century aluminium smelter in Grundartangi, Hvalfjörður. Since then increased sulphur pollution in the power plant’s surrounding area, as well as in the area around Reykjavík, has regularly become a topic of discussion and Sigurðardóttir says that the pollution’s impacts are systematically underestimated. Instead of using recent researches into the issue, Mannvit bases the EIA on prediction-models, but new studies by the University of Reykjavík indicate that the increased use of medicine for asthma and heart disease angina pectoris is directly linked to increased sulphur pollution. Read More

Apr 20 2011
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The Government Stands or Falls with the Þjórsá River Conflict


Iceland’s government’s majority in parliament stands and falls with one particular parliament member from the Left Green party (VG), Guðfríður Lilja Grétarsdóttir, who is strongly opposed to the planned triple damming of Lower Þjórsá river. This became clear last week, on April 13th, when a motion of no confidence, proposed by the right wing conservative party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn), was discussed in parliament. Read More

Mar 06 2011

National Energy Authority Fears Overexploitation of Geothermal Areas in Reykjanes


H.S. Orka, an Icelandic energy company recently bought by Canadian firm Magma Energy, has to widen its planned drilling area for the planned enlargement of Reykjanes geothermal power plant and proof that enough energy can be found on a larger area then already arranged for. These are conditions required from the National Energy Authority (NEA), which fears overexploitation of geothermal areas on the Reykjanes peninsula, in the south-west corner of Iceland. An aluminium smelter in Helguvík, which has been in the making for the last few years, is dependent on the enlargement. Read More

Feb 15 2011
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The Þjórsá Farce Continues – Are the Dams Planned for Aluminium Production?


A decision by Svandís Svavarsdóttir, Minister of Environment, to reject the construction of a dam in Urriðafoss waterfall in Þjórsá river, has been ruled illegal by Iceland’s supreme court. Whilst Svavardóttir and her comrades in government accept the ruling, and say the Minstry of Environment now has to look into the case and examine the legal environment, the right wing opposition in parliament, along with heavy industry lobbyists, demand the ministers’ resignation, claiming that she has delayed all construction in the area for two years. People living by Þjórsá have announced that these statements are wrong and ask for examples, while a MP accuses Landsvirkjun (the national energy company) of bribery. Read More

Jan 31 2011
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Century Aluminum Energy Questions


Century Aluminum (Nordural) intends to build an aluminium smelter at Helguvík for producing 250.000 tpy, using 435 MW of electricity. At one point the intended size grew to 600.000 tpy and 625 MW of electricity but those plans have been cancelled. The first phase of the smelter was expected to start in 2010 and the 250.000 ton should be reached in 2013. Now there are already some big structures at the smelter site but no energy has been produced and moreover, there is no energy available.

Sigmundur Einarsson, a geologist at the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, has written some articles on this matter (in Icelandic). He has tried, amongst a number of other environmental scientists,  to warn the Icelandic government about a new kind of collapse, an energy collapse due to following far too optimistic speculation of irresponsible people. Read More

Jul 13 2010
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Saving Iceland Mobilisation Call-Out


Join our resistance against the industrialization of Europe’s last remaining great wilderness and take direct action against heavy industry!

The Struggle So Far
The campaign to defend Europe’s greatest remaining wilderness continues. For the past five years summer direct action camps in Iceland have targeted aluminium smelters, mega-dams and geothermal power plants.

After the terrible destruction as a result of building Europe’s largest dam at Kárahnjúkar and massive geothermal plants at Hengill, there is still time to crush the ‘master plan’ that would have each major glacial river dammed, every substantial geothermal field exploited and the construction of aluminium smelters, an oil refinery, data farms and silicon factories. This would not only destroy unique landscapes and ecosystems but also lead to a massive increase in Iceland’s greenhouse gas emissions. Read More

Jan 29 2010

No Joint Assessment Needed in Reykjanes


Power LinesIn September 2009, the Ministry of Environment overruled the Planning Agency’s verdic which stated that no joint Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is needed for the S-West Power Grid and the industry that it’s going to be providing for. The case was sent back to the Planning Agency for a more substansial treatment.

This ruling caused uproar amongst pro-indistrialists, who went so far as to claiming that Svandís Svavarsdóttir, the minister of environment, was guilty of both treason and terrorism against the people og Reykjanes, especially all the unemployed. All the medias jumped on the wagon with the industrialists, citing union bosses worrying about the unemployment rate, economists painting a bleak picture of a bankrupt future and interviews with unemplyed people worrying about their mortages. And all of it was Svandís’s fault.

Yesterday the Ministry of Environment confirmed the Planning Agency’s second verdict. The verdict’s the same, no joint EIA is needed for the projects on the SW peninsular. This means that all the balls are in the industrialists court now and the media is backing them up with quotes and interviews with indistrial workers and union bosses dreaming of a better future now that the way has been paved for projects like the enlargement of the Reykjanes Power Plant, Bitra Power Plant, Hverahlíða Power Plant, various data storages and an aluminium smelter and a silicon factory in Helguvík.

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Nov 24 2009

Government and Interested Parties Wage a War Against Iceland’s Wilderness


Reykjanes Peninsula Geological MapLast Saturday, November 21st, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Iceland’s prime minister and the head of Samfylkingin (social democratic populist party), said that she is completely sure that all hindrances that could possibly stand in the way of the construction of Suðvesturlína (electricity lines) will be removed as soon as possible. Suðvesturlína is supposed to transport energy from the Hellisheiði geothermal powerplant (south of Reykjavík) and other energy sources to the Reykjanes peninsula, e.g. to run Century Aluminum’s new 360 ton smelter, which is currently being built in Helguvík.

At the same opportunity, Sigurðardóttir announced her hopes for that Landsvirkjun (Iceland’s national energy company) could start construction of Búðarhálsvirkjun hydro-dam in Tungná river, early next spring. The energy from there is supposed to run increased aluminium production in Rio Tinto-Alcan’s smelter in Hafnarfjörður. Sigurðardóttir said that employment affairs must be the biggest issue for social democtrats in the upcoming regional elections that will take place in the spring of 2010. She raised her voice for the necessity of increased development with the help of “eco-friendly” energy sources.

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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 27 2009

Iceland’s Geothermal Energy to be Privatized? – Canadian Company Wants to Take Over H.S. Orka


Magma Energy, a Canadian company, wants to buy a majority share in H.S. Orka, a geothermal energy company based on the Reykjanes peninsula. In July this year Magma Energy bought a 11% share in H.S. Orka from Geysir Green Energy (GGE) and therefor became the first foreign shareholder in an Icelandic energy company. The purchase was a part of a bigger agreement between Reykjanesbær and GGE, which resulted in GGE owning a little more than 50% of H.S. Orka. Around the purchase, Ross Beaty, Magma’s director stated that the company did not plan to become predominant in H.S. Orka or meddle with the management of the company’s power plants.

In the middle of August, Orkuveita Reykjavíkur (O.R. – e. Reykjavík Energy) decided to start discussion with Magma Energy about the latter’s purchase of O.R.’s share in H.S. Orka, which is 32% and would therefor give Magma 43% share in the company and the possibility of increasing it 5%. Magma has bought the very small shares of the communities of Sandgerði and Hafnarfjörður, and has been discussing with communities like Vogar and Grindavík about buying their shares as well. If everything goes like planned, H.S. Orka, which e.g. is the biggest energy provider for the Century Aluminum’s planned smelter in Helguvík, will mostly be owned by to private companies; Magma and GGE, which will own c.a. half of the shares each. Read More

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