'Tungnaá' Tag Archive

Jul 31 2011

Lake Langisjór Finally Declared Protected


Langisjór After many years of planning to change lake Langisjór, located at the western edge of Vatnajökull, into a reservoir for energy production, Landsvirkjun’s fantasies have finally been permanently ceased. Last Friday, July 29th, Iceland’s Ministry of Environment announced the publication of a regulation to validate the enlargement of Vatnajökull national park, which includes the protection of Langisjór and partly the volcanic canyon Eldgjá and its surroundings. The regulation is the final step in an agreement, signed in February this year, between the Ministry of Environment and local authority of Skaftá district concerning the enlaregment of the national park, based on the priceless value of the area’s natural features. This manifests the full realization of one of Iceland’s environmental movement’s biggest victories.

Landsvirkjun, Iceland’s national energy company, intended to channel river Skaftá to river Tungnaá river through Langisjór, which would effectively become a reservoir. The Skaftá dam (Skaftárveita) would have added another 7 km2 to the lake-reservoir with the purpose of increasing the energy capacity of planned dams in rivers Þjórsá and Tungnaá. The three planned dams in Þjórsá have been met with fierce local and national opposition whereas the construction of Búðarháls dam in Tungná is already taking place, its energy meant for increased aluminium production in Rio Tinto’s Alcan smelter in Straumsvík. Effectively, the damming of Langisjór would lead to a sediment build-up and increased turbidity which would destroy the lake ecosystem. Read More

Jul 23 2011

Mixed Feelings About Iceland’s Energy Master Plan – Landsvirkjun Presents its Future Strategy


Þjórsárver Wetlands - Photo by RAX: www.rax.is The making of Iceland’s Energy Master Plan, a framework programme concerning the exploitation and protection of the country’s natural resources, which has been in the making since 1999, has reached a critical state as a report on the process’ second phase was published in the beginning of July. The report includes a list of more than 60 areas, arranged from the perspectives of both protection and exploitation, which is supposed to lay the foundation for a final parliamentary resolution concerning the Master Plan. While those in favour of further exploitation, parallel to the continuous build-up of heavy industry, seem generally happy with the report, environmentalists are both sceptical and critical, stating that the exploitation value was always in the forefront of the process.

Like explained on the project’s official website the process was “split into two phases. The first phase, 1999–2003, evaluated and ranked 20 large-scale hydro-power options, mostly located in the highlands, and the same number of geothermal options in 8 high-temperature areas.” The second phase was supposed to “rank all the options to produce the final result,” including “an evaluation of whether some areas should be conserved completely, without any energy-harnessing activities.” Proposed power projects were said to be “evaluated and categorised on the basis of efficiency, economic profitability, and how they will benefit the economy as a whole,” while the “the impact on the environment, nature, and wildlife” was also supposed to be evaluated, “as well as the impact on the landscape, cultural heritage and ancient monuments, grazing and other traditional land use, outdoor activities fishing, and hunting.” Read More

May 11 2011

Landsvirkjun Wants Icelanders to Settle Upon 14 New Power Plants


Hörður Arnarson, Landsvirkjun's director Landsvirkjun, Iceland’s national energy company, plans to build fourteen power plants in the next 15 years; ten hydro dams and four geothermal plants, costing between 4,5 and 5 billion US dollars. If the plans go ahead Landsvirkjun will increase its electricity production by eleven terawatt hours (TWh), resulting in annual production of 40 TWh. “A new Kárahnjúkar dam is on the cards,” said Katrín Júlíusdóttir, minster of industry, when discussing  energy plans in parliament recently.

Landsvirkjun’s new plan was presented at the company’s annual general meeting, which took place on April 15th. According to the company’s director, Hörður Árnason, the planned power plants are to be built in several rivers, including Þjórsá, Tungnaá and Hólmsá, as well as geothermal areas in the north of Iceland. The construction of Búðarháls Dam in Tungnaá has already started and Landsvirkjun plans to start energy production there in 2013, whereas all the other options are still being looked at in the making of a framework programme concerning the use and protection of Iceland natural resources. Read More

Mar 17 2011

Loan for Búðarháls Dam Dependent on IceSave Outcome


Oasis by Tungnaá river Yesterday, national energy company Landsvirkjun received the first loan for its planned Búðarháls dam in Tungnaá River (south Iceland, north-east of Þjórsá river). The 8,6 billion ISK loan comes from the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) and is dependent on the outcome of the referendum about the so-called IceSave bill, which will take place on April 9th. The energy is meant for Rio Tinto- Alcan’s increased aluminium production. Read More

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


Þjórsá 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

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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Sep 16 2009

Chinese Aluminium Producer to Buy Icelandic Energy – Búðarháls Dam the Government’s Priority


Þeistareykir testdrilling Chinalco, China’s biggest aluminium producer, has shown interest in buying a 32% share in Þeistareykir ehf., a geothermal energy company from the north of Iceland, owned equally by three companies; Landsvirkun (Iceland’s national energy company), Norðurorka and Orkuveita Húsavíkur (O.H. – Húsavík Energy). Norðuorka has shown interest in selling its share and according to information from the Chinesee Embassy in Iceland a committee from Chinalco will go north to Húsavík soon to discuss with those who the purchase concerns. Alcoa and H.S. Orka, which has been bought by the Canadian H.S. Orka, have also shown interest in buying a share in Þeistareykir ehf.

Chinalco owns 10% shares in Rio Tinto-Alcan, which owns an aluminium smelter in Hafnarfjörður, Iceland. Chinalco has been focusing on buying up companies in different metal industries and e.g. recently bought copper mines in Latin America from Ross Beaty, the director of Magma Energy, a Canadian geothermal energy company that is in the process of buying big shares in an Icelandic energy company, H.S. Orka and has mentioned the possibility of buying shares in Geysir Green Energy, the major owner of H.S. Orka.

The coming 1st of October, the memorandum of understanding between Alcoa, the government and Norðurþing county, expires. Norðurþing has announced their interest in renewing their contract with Alcoa, which is still looking for ways to use the geothermal energy from Þeistareykir.  Read More

Dec 18 2008

Búðarháls Dam Further Delayed


Budarhals_2003.JPG The construction of Búðarháls Dam (Búðarhálsvirkjun) in Tungnaá river, will probably be further delayed due to the uncertain future of Landsvirkjun´s financial possibilities. Landsvirkjun is Iceland’s national energy company. The construction was originally supposed to start early next year, after being delayed since 2003. The estimated cost is 25 billion Icelandic krónur.

Because of the collapse of the Icelandic banks and the international financial crisis, most possibilities for foreign loans are now frozen. Landsvirkjun’s long time financement is therefore quite uncertain.

“This mostly impacts new constructions, like Búðarhálsvirkjun” says Þorsteinn Hilmarsson, Landsvirkjun’s PR manager. “It is necessary to insure the future financement before the construction starts.  ”

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Nov 11 2008

Búðarháls Dam and RT-Alcan Production Increase Delayed


Tungnaá Landsvirkjun, Iceland’s national energy company, has announced that the tender offer of the dam Búðarhálsvirkjun will be delayed because of the current economical situation. This means that the planned expansion of Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminium smelter in Straumsvík will also be delayed. Construction of Búðarhálsvirkjun, which was stopped a number of years ago, will dam the Tungnaá River, close to the lake Langisjór.

The construction of Búðarhálsvirkjun is expected to be around 25 billion ISK and the 85 MW dam is supposed to power R.T. Alcan’s increased production in Straumsvík, Hafnarfjörður. R.T. Alcan hopes to increase its production by 40 thousand tons per year without enlarging the smelter. But the company also hopes to enlarge the smelter further, though the people of Hafnarfjörður voted against it in a 2007 referendum, or to construct a new smelter i Thorlakshofn. The dam is also meant to create power for Verne Holdin’s data center to be built in Reykjanesbær. Read More

Sep 17 2008

Rio Tinto Still Planning New Smelter in Iceland


rio_tinto Rio Tinto Alcan is still planning to construct a new smelter in Iceland, as well as in Canada, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Cameroon. In total the mining and metals giant is planning to expand it’s aluminium production capacity by 2.6 million tons. All the projects are projected to start between 2011 and 2014. Rising energy prices are driving fossil fuel powered smelters out of business, report financial news analysts Bloomberg. Thus Rio Tinto are looking at accelerating hydro-powered smelter construction.
Rio Tinto has thought to construct a new smelter in Thorlakshöfn or Keilisnes. Landsvirkjun have said they do not wish to construct more power plants for another new smelter in South West Iceland, but apparently Rio Tinto Alcan are still counting on it. Currently Budarhals dam in Tungnaa is being constructed to increase production in RTA’s Straumsvik smelter with 40.000 tons.