'Reykjavik Energy' Tag Archive

Sep 02 2007
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‘Aluminium Tyrants’ – The Ecologist


IcelandFTcartoonsml.jpgBy Jaap Krater, Miriam Rose and Mark Anslow, The Ecologist, October 2007.

The gates of a geothermal power station are not where you would expect to find environmental activists. But the morning of 26th July 2007 saw the access road to Hellisheidi power station in Hengill, South-West Iceland, blockaded by a group of protestors from the campaign group ‘Saving Iceland’. After a brief demonstration, nine activists were arrested and several now face legal action.

Geothermal power in Iceland is big business. Just five plants generate 3 TWh a year – more than the annual output from all the UK’s wind turbines combined (Orkustofnun 2005; BERR 2006). Geothermal power also provides at least 85 per cent of Iceland’s homes with heat and hot water. This abundance of cheap, largely CO2-free energy has attracted energy-hungry industries to the country like sharks to a carcass. Of these, by far the most energy intensive is the aluminium industry (Krater 2007; Saving Iceland 2007).
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Jul 26 2007
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Saving Iceland Blockades Hellisheidi Power Station


RAX - HellisheidarvirkjunSaving Iceland blockaded two roads to Hellisheidi Power Station at 7am this morning. The activists locked on to different vehicles and one climbed a crane on the worksite and unfurled a gigantic banner: “STOP PRODUCING ENERGY FOR WEAPONS”


Jul 20 2007
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Saving Iceland Invites Reykjavik Energy to Discuss their Ethics Publicly


Press Release – July 20th, 2007 – Icelandic below – Follows from earlier release today – Photo Report – Photo / Video footage available from 8578625.

Saving Iceland Invites Reykjavik Energy to Discuss their Ethics Publicly

Today 25 protestors from Saving Iceland went into Orkuveitu Reykjavíkur (Reykjavik Energy, O.R.) and hung up a banner inside stating: ‘Vopnaveita Reykjavíkur?’ (‘Reykjavik Arms-dealers?’). The banner was not hung outside as planned earlier because of weather conditions. Protestors stayed in the building from 15.15 until 16.00 hrs.

Páll Erland speaking on behalf of O.R. states that they offered strawberries to protestors and welcomed Saving Iceland to put up the banner. While Erland might be happy to discuss strawberries with their visitors, they certainly did not give permission to hang up a banner indicating that they sell energy to companies known to be involved in arms production and serious human rights violations (as documented in our earlier press release)
Saving Iceland has now contacted O.R., requesting they put up the banner and discuss publicly with us the ethics of selling energy to corporate criminals such as Century-RUSAL and Alcan-RioTinto.
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Jul 20 2007

Saving Iceland Invades Reykjavik Energy


Saving Iceland Invites Reykjavik Energy to Discuss their Ethics Publicly “STOP PRODUCING ENERGY FOR WAR”

REYKJAVIK – Saving Iceland’s clown army has this afternoon entered the head office of Orkuveita Reykjavíkur (OR, Reykjavik Energy) on Baejarhals 1. Simultaneously, protestors climbed onto the roof of the building unfolding a banner stating ‘Vopnaveita Reykjavíkur’ (Reykjavik arms-dealers). Saving Iceland demands that O.R. stop selling energy to the aluminium corporations Century and ALCAN-RioTinto. 30% of aluminium produced goes to the military and arms-industry (1).

Currently, O.R. are expanding the Hellisheidi geothermal plant at Hengill. “The goal of enlarging Hellisheidarvrikjun is to meet industries demands of energy,” states the Environmental Impact Assessment, particularly the Century expansion at Grundartangi and possible new ALCAN and Century plants at Straumsvik and Helguvik (2, 3).
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Jul 18 2007

Saving Iceland Blockade Century and ELKEM Factories


Century smelterPress Release

GRUNDARTANGI – Saving Iceland has this afternoon closed the single supply road from Highway 1 to the Century/Nordural smelter in Hvalfjordur and the steel factory Elkem – Icelandic Alloys. Saving Iceland opposes the planned new Century smelter at Helguvik and the expansion of the Icelandic Alloys factory. Activists have used lock-ons (metal arm tubes) to form a human blockade on the road and have occupied a construction site crane.

Century Aluminum, a part of the recently formed Russian-Swiss RUSAL/ Glencore/SUAL conglomorate, want to build a second smelter in Iceland in Helguvik with a projected capacity of at least 250.000 metric tons per annum. The planned site is designed to accommodate further expansion. Grundartangi has this year been extended to 260.000 mtpa.

Currently, an environmental impact assessment (1) is under review for the Helguvik smelter, produced by the construction consultants HRV (Honnun/Rafhonnun/VST).

“It is absurd that an engineering company with a vested interest in the smelter construction could be considered to produce an objective impact assessment. The document makes absurd claims, such as that pollution is really not a problem because Helguvik is such a windy place that the pollution will just blow away,” says Saving Iceland’s Snorri Páll Jónsson Úlfhildarson.”

“This smelter will demand new geothermal power plants at Seltún, Sandfell, Austurengjar and Trölladyngju. In addition to the Hengill area which has already been seriously damaged by Reykjavik Energy. The impact assessment does not take these into account, nor the impact of the huge amount of power lines and pylons required. The plants will ruin the natural and scenic value of the whole peninsula. Also, the recquired capacity, 400 MW, exceeds the natural capactity of the geothermal spots, and they will cool down in three to four decades (2). And Century admits it wants the site to expand further in the next decades. So it is obvious that this smelter will not just ruin Reykjanes but also need additional hydropower.”

The impact procedure seems to be completely irrelevant anyway, since the company has completed an equity offering worth $360 million to be deployed for partly financing the construction of the Helguvik smelter project (3). This indicates that Century already has high level assurances that the project is to continue no matter what.

This completely contradicts the claims the new government of Iceland, and particularly it’s environment minister Þórunn Sveinbjarnardóttir, is opposed to new smelter projects.

Icelandic Alloys wants to expand its facility for producing ferrosilicon for the steel industry. It is in fact one of Iceland’s largest contributors to greenhouse gases and other pollutants (4).

“Expansion of Icelandic Alloys and Century considerably contribute to Iceland’s greenhouse emissions. If there are no further expansions of heavy industry beyond Grundartangi and ALCOA Fjardaal, Iceland will emit 38% more greenhouse gases than in 1990. If other expansion plans continue, levels would rise to an incredible 63% above 1990 levels. (5). That is completely irresponsible.

This shows that all the talk about ‘green energy’ from hydro and geothermal is, in reality, a lie. Icelanders have to rise up against these foreign corporations,” says Úlfhildarson. Read More

Jul 17 2007

Blackmail by Hengill


View from Hengill
July 18th 2007 a number of Saving Iceland activists made a courteous -first- visit to the Reykjavik Energy geothermal power station (Hellisheidarvirkjun), at Hengill volcano, to ask questions about the expansion of the geothermal power plant to provide electricity to aluminium smelters (Source: EIB). It is striking, that although the expansion of the Rio Tinto ALCAN smelter in Hafnarfjordur has been rejected by referendum, and other smelter projects in the south west are not definite, and the current Icelandic government says to oppose more smelters, Hellisheidi is still being expanded by Reykjavik Energy – at a cost of a whopping 379.06 million dollars. The Icelandic people are again blackmailed: once the expansion is completed, this will force Iceland into more smelters because the electricity needs to be sold to get investments back. The expansion must be stopped.

The Hengill geothermal area is one of the largest and most active geothermal zones in Iceland, with over 112 km2 of unique geological landscape featuring warm pools, hot springs and bubbling mud pools. The area is culturally and historically fascinating, located below and on the slopes of the dramatic Hengill volcano where travellers on their way to Reykjavik and Þingvellir have traced the ancient Cairns since Iceland’s first settlement. Þingvellir national park and Alþingi, the most precious Icelandic cultural landmark, can be seen from Hengill across the stunning lake þingvallavatn and stands to be affected by the developments here.

Geothermal Electricity
In addition to the existing geothermal boreholes and power plants at Hellisheiði, Reykjavik Energy has declared plans to vastly expand the number of boreholes and power stations in order to produce electricity planned Aluminium smelters at Keflavik and Hvalfjordur (Century) and an expansion to the Rio Tinto / Alcan plant at Hafnarfjordur. The implications of this exploitation are far-reaching.

  • Increased power generation means increased noise and industrial visual disturbance to this exceptionally rare and valuable landscape type.
  • Extraction of underground fluids leads to changes in groundwater movements, commonly including drying of unique hot springs and geysers and pollution of pure subsurface spring water.
  • Hot and toxic waste water is either disposed of by pumping it back into the borehole (as at Nesjavellir), commonly increasing the frequency of earthquakes in this very active fault zone, or it is pumped untreated into streams and lakes, wiping out valuable ecosystems as treatment is considered too expensive. The Northern end of lake þingvallavatn is already biologically dead in parts due to wastewater pumping and must be protected from more damage.

Green Energy?
RE and Landsvirkjun justify this tragedy under the guise of ‘green energy’, intended for the expansion of heavily polluting aluminium industry. The Aluminium industry is an environmental and social hazard from start to finish:

  • Mining of bauxite (raw Aluminium) destroys vast areas of tropical forest in Australia and the Amazon.
  • In the smelting countries, sulphur dioxide causes acid rain and potent greenhouse gases lead to climate change. 13 tons of CO2 are produced for every ton of aluminium.
  • The production process results in far more tonnage of pollution than aluminium, including fine red silt containing radioactive elements which cause cancer and silicosis in the developing countries in which they are mined.
  • Emissions of highly toxic fluorides poison fish and all other aquatic life.
  • After smelting, the aluminium is used to build cars, cans and planes and 30% of production goes to the military. ALCOA use the blurb ‘lighter, faster, stronger’ to advertise tanks, missiles, and F16s used to kill and maim civilians in Iraq and other controversial conflicts.
  • Smelters have a limited lifetime. They close after a few decades, leaving communities in disarray. This has happened in the US, in Suriname, Brazil, and many other countries. Geothermal plants are also limited in their lifespan. They are exhausted after a few decades, after which they need an unknown rest period.

Suggesting that Iceland has an ethical duty to sell all it’s energy possibilities, whether green or not, is an insult to our intelligence.

Change
In recent years the public consciousness against such damaging and outdated heavy industry has grown. In September 2006 15,000 people marched in Reykjavik and around the country as the exceptionally beautiful Karahnjukar highlands were finally and tragically drowned. For the third year, Icelandic and international activists have gathered in the wild of this incredible country to protest the blackening of this pure land by heavy industry. We welcome all those who share a love for nature and are willing to stand up against its destruction. Read More

Jan 06 2007

2007 Saving Iceland Protest Camp and International Conference


A summer of International dissent and action against Heavy Industry – swarming around Iceland from the 6th of July 2007

2007 Protest Camp 

The Camp and Conference:

The camp will start 6 July. The conference on the Global Consequences of Heavy Industry takes place at the camp 7-8 July. Academics, activists and other people affected by the aluminium industry, dams and environmental destruction will come together to discuss their experiences and think about how to build up stronger local and global resistance.

Immediately following from this the protest camp will be set up. It will be a space in which creative and direct opposition to heavy industry can be mounted. There will be workshops, discussions and concerts (by emerging Icelandic groups as well as world famous bands) during this period. There will be a strong focus around direct action, as in previous camps. For example, at the past two camps there were a number of actions whereby protestors got into dam and smelter construction sites, sometimes chaining themselves to machinery, sometimes not. People of all experiences of this kind of protest are extreemely welcome. Read More

Jan 01 2007

Saving Iceland New Year Stunt in London


Millenium bridge Millennium Bridge

 

On New Years Day, campaigners from Saving Iceland climbed St.Pauls Cathedral and the Tate Modern in London as part of our campaign to challenge the destruction of the Icelandic hihghlands, Europe’s last remaining great wildernesses, and the destruction of communities in Trinidad, both at the hands of the aluminium industry and in particular ALCOA, ALCAN and Century Aluminum.
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Feb 08 2006

Heavy Industry Projects Have Low Returns, Displace Jobs


Iceland Review

The required return on investment of the hydroelectric power plant at Kárahnjúkar was too low said Ágúst Gudmundsson, chairman of Bakkavör on the current affairs program Kastljós (Spotlight) Tuesday, according to the Icelandic Broadcasting Service, RÚV. “I would have preferred that the money had been spent in a different way,” he said. Read More

Aug 18 2005

Aluminium Smelters Add Little to Iceland’s Bottom Line


Iceland Review
08/18/2005

In its Tuesday daily bulletin, KB-bank says that the benefit that Iceland derives from aluminium smelters is small. The bank supports this view by claiming that the electricity is sold at close to cost and the rate of return for hydroelectric dams is low. It also says that the economical impact is overstated in the local discourse.

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