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First Wind Turbines begin operation

February 18, 2013
From left: Ms. Bryndis Hlodversdottir Chairman of the Board of Landsvirkjun, Mr. Hordur Arnarson CEO of Landsvirkjun, Mr. Steingrimur J. Sigfusson Minister of Industries and Innovation, Ms Margret Arnardottir Project Manager

Landsvirkjun celebrated a ground-breaking moment in its history by starting up the first two wind turbines in its operation, on the 14th of February. The ceremony was directed by Hörður Arnarson, CEO of Landsvirkjun and the weather seemed to turn out in full support, as a gale whipped up on what was an unusually sunny day. Eike Gentshe, a representative of the manufacturer Enercon handed over the project, so that the turbines could formally begin operations. Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, Minister of Industries and Innovation started up the turbines by making a phone call to the headquarters of Enercon and giving them the official go-ahead.

During his speech, Hörður Arnarson commented on the substantial increase in the worldwide demand for renewable energy, and that a crossroads had been reached in the Icelandic energy sector by connecting the two wind turbines to the national grid. He said “It is entirely possible that wind energy could become the third pillar in Landsvirkjun’s operations in the future, adding to the list of renewable sources already utilised by Landsvirkjun, such as geothermal and hydroelectric power. It will be interesting to see how wind power in Iceland can be utilised in conjunction with hydropower as the flexibility of hydroelectric power could in fact increase the value of wind power.”

In his speech, Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, Minister of Industries and Innovation welcomed Landsvirkjun’s latest endeavour and wished it great success. He applauded Landsvirkjun’s vision and enterprise in the project and spoke of the exemplary example the company had set by venturing into new territory. After his speech, the Minster had the turbines officially switched on.

Real-time information on electricity production, wind force and wind direction on the site of the wind-turbines is available our website. The information is available to give the public an opportunity to observe the project on a day to day basis. See more here:

More about the windmills:

The two wind turbines are part of a research and development project on the feasibility of wind power. Research in the near future will focus on the unique operational environment in Iceland, such as: the effect of icing, snow drift, ash and sand drift as well as the impact upon wildlife and the Icelandic community. The project will also bring with it much needed operational experience in the field, to be built upon if wind power proves to be a successful candidate, for further development in Iceland in the future.

The large man-made structures have an undeniable visual impact on their surroundings. However, the impact on the overall environment is much less than that of other renewable utilisation methods and a wind turbine leaves no trace on the ground, once it has been taken down.

The site, known as Hafið was chosen as a result of the natural wind tunnels in the area, where winds at a height of 55 metres can reach an average speed of 10-12 metres per second. The wind turbines were connected to an underground cable already present in the area and are located in close proximity to the operational base run by Landsvirkjun, at Búrfell. The staff there will be responsible for the day to day operation of the wind turbines.

The wind turbines are manufactured by the German company Enercon, who signed a contract with Landsvirkjun in June of last year. Enercon specialises in manufacturing gearless, direct drive mechanism wind turbines for use on land. This type of turbine has fewer rotating components, reducing mechanical stress and reducing maintenance and operating costs, as the system’s lifespan is longer. It also minimises noise emission.

The wind turbines each have a 900 kW capacity and together their generating capacity could be up to 5.4 GWh per year. The energy generated will be enough to serve 1200 households. The turbines reach full power at 15 metres per second but have a storm control system, with a cut-out speed of 34 metres per second, for obvious safety reasons.

The mast of the wind turbine is a steel tube that tapers upwards. The diameter at the foot of the mast is about 3.5 meters and about 2 meters at the top. At the top of the mast are the key components, including the turbine itself, the main carrier and the annual generator. The various control systems, switching devices and transformers can be found at the bottom of the mast.

The masts reach a height of 55 metres and each spade measures 22 metres in length. When the spades are at their highest position, the unit achieves a height of 77 metres.

The history of the project

Landsvirkjun applied for a licence to operate wind turbines from the National Energy Authority, at the beginning of June of last year. The municipal councils for Skeida and Gnúpverjahreppur advertised the formal amendments to the Master Plan and the Division Plan, as a result of the project, in July of the same year. The license was granted by the National Energy Authority in September and the Prime Minister’s Office also approved the project; their permission was required due to the fact that the project site is on public land. Landsvirkjun negotiated with Hnit Engineering consultants, with regard to supervising the construction work and with the German company WKA, with regard to the concrete foundation work, which was completed at the end of October.

The wind turbines were transported by ship, by the company Thor Ship and arrived in mid-November. They were transported to the Hafið site at the end of the same month. A team from Enercon joined forces with the crane company ‘Vélaverkstæði Hjalta Einarsson’ to complete the installation. The wind turbines were set up in a matter of days, in early December. This was followed by work carried out on electrical and fibre optic connections and the setting up of the substation, under the supervision of Gunnar Hafsteinsson and the company Orkufjarskipta.  They connected to the network at the end of January and pre-operational testing was carried out by the manufacturer. The wind turbines officially began operation on the 14th of February, 2013 and they now generate electrical energy for the Icelandic national grid.

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