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Iceland Geothermal Power Plant Unsustainable

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Iceland Geothermal Power Plant Unsustainable

Studies of the Hengill geothermal area off the capital region have concluded that the area currently exploited by the Hellisheiðarvirkjun power plant, run by Reykjavík Energy (OR), will not be able to supply the plant with energy for full production long term.

hellisheidi-power-plant_psHellisheiðarvirkjun. Foto: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review.

Electricity production has already been scaled down, Fréttablaðið reports.

The area currently exploited by the plant is smaller and not as high in energy as originally assumed. There are indications that the plant was expanded too rapidly.

According to ruv.is, Left Green MP Lilja Rafney Magnúsdóttir, who represents the party on the Icelandic parliament Alþingi’s Industrial Affairs Committee, and the party’s chair Katrín Jakobsdóttir have called for a joint meeting of the Industrial Affairs and Environment and Communications Committee to discuss the situation.

“Fréttablaðið’s story gives the parliament full reason to review the issue because it states that the plant’s energy production is much lower than planned. Of course it raises questions about whether the geothermal power plants that we have been supporting in the political field are in fact as sustainable as maintained,” Katrín commented. “That seems not to be the case.”

CEO of OR Bjarni Bjarnason told Fréttablaðið that more steam is necessary to secure Hellisheiðarvirkjun’s future operations. “Otherwise the production will continue to decrease, even considerably quickly.”

Hellisheiðarvirkjun’s full capacity was 303 MW until the end of last year. Since then, it has dropped to 276 MW. Scientists estimate that the capacity will continue to drop by six MW per year on average.

OR’s best bet to guarantee full energy production in the coming years is to connect Hellisheiðarvirkjun by steam pipes with the high temperature area in Hverahlíð, where the company’s next large geothermal plant was planned.

Bjarni said if a new EIA doesn’t prove necessary, the steam pipe could become operational by 2014. However, OR’s board has yet to decide whether to go ahead with the project, which would cost almost ISK 3 billion (USD 25 million, EUR 19 million).

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