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Dams in Jökulsá among New Energy Options

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Dams in Jökulsá among New Energy Options

Dettifoss waterfall.

Dettifoss. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The National Energy Authority published a draft of a definition for 23 new energy harnessing options in Iceland yesterday, among them two hydropower plants in glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum in Northeast Iceland, upriver from Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe.

The suggestions were sent to the task force responsible for the third stage of the framework program on power plants and environment protection. In the second stage, Jökulsá was in the protection category, ruv.is reports.

One of the suggested power plants is Arnardalsvirkjun, which would harness the flow of Jökulsá and the river Kreppa in two steps. The flow of the two rivers would be directed into a reservoir with a dam in Arnardalsá river.

This would impact the popular tourist destinations Dettifoss and cliffs Hljóðaklettar, along with the area around Kverkfjöll mountains, Arnardalur valley and Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, all of which are part of Vatnajökull National Park.

The other power plant option in Jökulsá is Helmingsvirkjun, which would harness the basic flow of the glacial river. Water from Jökulsá and Kreppa would be channeled from where the distance between the two rivers is the shortest, west of Álftadalsdyngja, by a headrace tunnel and a trench to an intake reservoir by the northern end of Álftadalsdyngja.

The intake reservoir would be formed by three dams. Water would then be channeled from the intake reservoir to the reservoir used for energy harnessing by the hydropower plant via Kreppa’s riverbed. During the winter water would be pumped out of Arnardalsá through an underground pipe into the intake reservoir.

Approximately half of the water flow of Jökulsá would be used by the power plant. The National Energy Authority states that its impact on Dettifoss would be limited over the summer.

The National Energy Authority has yet to take a position on 38 energy harnessing options; they are 88 in total. The full draft sent yesterday is available on the authority’s website.

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