According to a survey recently conducted by Capacent Gallup, the overwhelming majority of the public is in favour of raising a wind farm in Iceland. Only 7% were against the idea. The operation of the two research wind turbines (constructed in December, 2012) in the area known as Hafið has so far been successful and has highlighted the potential for energy generation, via wind energy, in Iceland.
Landsvirkjun intends to continue its research and has hopes that wind energy could become the third pillar in Landsvirkjun’s operations.
The next step includes the assessment of the Hafið area and neighbouring areas to ascertain the feasibility of a wind farm. The generation capacity of the area must also be assessed and differing proposals for wind farms put forward. Considerations would include social and environmental implications and the feasibility of such a development and its operation.
Two contracts were signed today with the engineering companies Mannvit and Efla for consultation services with regard to the potential development of a wind farm at Hafið.
According to a survey recently conducted by Capacent Gallup, the overwhelming majority of the public is in favour of raising a wind farm in Iceland (around 81% of respondents). Support is overwhelming with over half of the respondents stating that they were either very supportive or completely supportive of the idea. Only 7% were against the idea.
There has been a great deal of interest in the wind power project and as a result of this a decision was made to invite guests to visit the wind turbine site over a six week period during the summer (between 14:00 and 17:00). Guests were offered the opportunity to view inside the tower and see up into the powerhouse. Over 1800 enthusiastic individuals visited the wind turbines throughout the period, familiarised themselves with the project and chatted to staff.
Hörður Arnarson CEO of Landsvirkjun:
“The cost of wind power is decreasing but the characteristics of wind power are certainly different to that of hydropower and geothermal power. Hydropower is the safest option and is flexible. Geothermal power is stable and offers the possibility of diversifying energy utilisation. However, wind energy is an interesting third option for Landsvirkjun as it offers the possibility of utilising the flexibility of hydropower to balance the fluctuations that accompany wind power.”
The evolution of wind energy has been rapid worldwide and extraordinary progress has been made within a relatively short period of time. At the end of 2012, over 3% of the world’s electricity supply was sourced from wind energy. At the same time, financing and operational costs have decreased significantly and this trend promises to continue. The World Wind Energy association (WWEA) predicted that the installed capacity of wind turbines would double worldwide before the end of 2016 and that installed wind capacity could reach one million MW, matching the installed capacity of hydropower today.
The potential of wind farms researched at Hafið
The operation of the two research wind turbines has been successful and the potential of electricity generation, via wind power, in Iceland is great. However, Landsvirkjun has made the decision to assess the wind energy capacity with more accuracy by carrying out detailed wind measurements and simulations. Landsvirkjun will also assess and compare the differing proposals with regard to the size and location of potential wind farms.
The possibility of raising a wind farm in Iceland has not been analysed before with any precision and requires pioneering work including an environmental impact report, an assessment of the need for organisational changes, an assessment of the value of a wind farm for the electricity system as a whole and the opportunities afforded by the interaction of hydro and wind power.
The legal framework and regulations must be scrutinised; those already in place and the development of regulations where they are not present.
The goal of the project is to ensure that Landsvirkjun is able to rely on detailed analyses and data with regard to decisions on the development of wind power as the third pillar in the electricity system.
Consultation services from the engineering companies Efla and Mannvit
The project will utilise the consultancy services for the preparation and development of wind farms in Hafið. The project is twofold; consultancy services for the project design and consultancy services for an environmental impact assessment.
The project design is under the auspices of the engineering company Efla who are in cooperation with the Swedish consultancy agency Pöyry SwedPower AB and the Belging institute for meteorology.
The engineering company Mannvit will provide consultancy services pertaining to the environmental impact assessment. Mannvit is working in cooperation with the Norwegian consultancy agency Ramböll AS and Landslag ehf.
The project will be executed between 2013 and 2015.
Conditions in Iceland are unusually favourable for the utilisation of wind energy. Wind research shows high levels of wind power at a relatively low height above sea level. This increases the feasibility of utilising wind energy as the masts could be lower than usual, which would in turn lower costs. Construction takes a short period of time and wind farms can be built in phases (according to need and market demand). The environmental impact of wind turbines is relatively low and completely reversible. The visual impact is a reality and the choice of location is therefore an important consideration. Wind velocity is at its highest during the winter period when there is a decrease in flow to the Landsvirkjun’s reservoirs; the possible synergy of wind and hydropower is therefore high.
Further research and preparation will contribute to effective procedures and will ensure a solid foundation for any future decisions.
So far, this year, the operation of the wind turbines has been successful and there have been no unusual operational disturbances. Wind conditions in Hafið have been mostly typical of that in previous years and have been close to the average rate since the wind turbines were installed.
The energy generation of the wind turbines has been according to schedule and 3150MW/h has been generated since measurements began. The energy generated would be enough to charge half a billion mobile phones.
The energy generation of the two wind turbines can be monitored in real time on the Landsvirkjun website: http://www.landsvirkjun.is/Rannsoknirogthroun/Throunarverkefni/Vindmyllur/Rauntimaupplysingar