Landsvirkjun

Will the wind finally do some good?

In December, Landsvirkjun erected two wind turbines, in an area known as Hafið, within the construction area of Búrfell Power Station, in the south of Iceland. The turbines have a total of 2 MW of installed power. The project is part of Landsvirkjun’s research and development project on the advantageous of wind power in Iceland. There are a number of areas in Iceland that show great potential for the successful utilisation of wind energy.

The wind turbines each have a 900 kW capacity and together their generating capacity could be up to 5.4 GWh per year. The masts is 55 metres heigh and each spade measures 22 metres in length. When the spades are at their highest position the unit is 77 metres of height. Wind turbines developed for further energy production will in all likelihood be larger than the most powerful turbines presently operating in Iceland today, reaching 7.5MW.

Scenes from the construction

Old ideas – modern technology

The mast is a tapered steel tube, 3.5 m in diameter at ground level and 1.8 m at the top. The generator is in the nacelle on top of the mast and the switchgear and other equipment is inside the mast on the ground. The turbines are designed according to wind class IEC/NVN 1A. Access to the turbine park is via a new path from route 32. The turbines operate at or around full capacity at wind speeds of 15-28 m/sec. Below 3 m/sec and above 34 m/sec, electricity generation stops. They connect to an 11kV underground cable running along route 32 towards Búrfell. All additional electricity and data cables will be underground, in order to minimize environmental impact.

Wind Research

Landsvirkjun has operated an automatic weather station since 1993, in the vicinity of the planned site, measuring wind direction and speed at a height of 10 metres and collecting data every 10 minutes. In 2011, Landsvirkjun erected a 50 meter high ‘met mast’ to collect data on wind changes with altitude. Wind speed is measured at a height of 2, 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 metres, and data collected within a very high time resolution (1 sec). Temperature is measured at the same level and with the same frequency, in addition to humidity and pressure. A LIDAR instrument sends a laser beam vertically at 20 second intervals to measure wind changes at altitudes of up to about 180 metres above ground level. These are comparative measurements to the 50 meter mast. The aim is also to provide information on wind at heights above the mast; up to about 100 metres. To obtain further information on the geographical variability of the wind in the Búrfell region, two weather stations of the same type as the one at Búrfell were installed in 2011.

Experience through operation

Most wind turbines are located near shorelines or at sea, where winds are steadier than inland. The main objective of Landsvirkjun’s experimental turbine project is to obtain operational experience with wind turbines far inland and in the Icelandic climate. While not expected to be a problem, the possibility of icing at the altitude of 250-270 metres above sea level will be closely monitored. Various climatic studies will be carried out during operation, including wind measurements and research on icing, the impact of snow, ash and soil erosion as well as the effects on birds and other wildlife.

Visual impact

Like all large structures, wind turbines have an inevitable visual impact.
However, a permanent impact on the overall appearance of the environment is not considered high in comparison to other types of power plants. Wind turbines can be easily dismantled, leaving the land almost unspoiled.
Equally, it is relatively easy to install wind turbines and thus increase production, if sufficient land is available.

Noise

In recent years there have been rapid developments in noise reduction from wind turbines where the design of the blades play a major role. The planned installation location is at a considerable distance from inhabited areas so noise is not expected to have a great impact.

The E-44 wind turbine

The wind turbines are made by the German company Enercon and are of the model Enercon E-44. Enercon specialises in manufacturing direct-drive wind turbines. The advantage is that the generator produces electricity with fewer turns and thus reduced mechanical stress, increased engine life and reduced energy loss and noise.