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Landsvirkjun supports a review of the environmental impact assessment for the Bjarnarflag Power Station

September 11, 2013

Environmental Impact Report for the Bjarnarflag Power Station completed

The general engineering and consulting company Efla has completed a review of the current Environmental Impact Report on the Bjarnarflag Power Station, at Landsvirkjun’s request. They have concluded that there are no significant changes to the baseline or to the legal framework that would require a complete new assessment. The discussion on seismic activity within the report is however not fully comprehensive and an insubstantial assessment of ‘seismic hazard’ could call for a review on this particular section.

Environmental impact assessed more extensively

Landsvirkjun has adopted the policy of utilising the geothermal areas they have been entrusted with in a sustainable manner and the new Bjarnaflag Power Station must therefore not endanger the ecosystem of Mývatn in any way. Landsvirkjun believes that any construction and development in the area should be carried out with the utmost care. Landsvirkjun has conducted extensive research on the chemical composition of groundwater, ecosystem, surface activity, seismic activity and air quality, in connection with the current operations at the Bjarnaflag Power Station, and as a preparation measure for the potential new power station.

Landsvirkjun believes that a more extensive analysis of environmental effects pertaining to tremors and the re-injection of geothermal fluid should be carried out, due to the close proximity of the station to the Mývatn Lake and the residential area. These factors were not satisfactorily covered by the initial report. Landvirkjun will also assess the need for a review of the assessment on groundwater and air quality.

Decision on reviewing the environmental impact assessment in the hands of the Icelandic National Planning Agency

The viability of the assessment of a 90MW power station at Bjarnaflag is clearly outlined by the verdict released by the Icelandic National Planning Agency in February, 2004. The regulations, pertaining to environmental assessment, outline the fact that if construction does not begin within 10 years of the release of the verdict then the relevant permit provider shall request that the Icelandic National Planning Agency reach a decision on the need for a partial or complete review of the initial environmental assessment. This February (2014), ten years will have passed since the verdict was reached.

Landsvirkjun will, in cooperation with the municipal council of Skútustaðahreppur, consult with the Icelandic National Planning Agency with regard to the need for a partial or complete review of the initial environmental assessment

A more cautious approach

The Bjarnarflag Power Station is categorised as suitable for utilisation by the Master Plan for Hydro and Geothermal Energy Resources in Iceland. The current power station has been operating for over 40 years; since 1969. Bjarnaflag is an example of one of the oldest attempts to utilise geothermal areas in Iceland and the utilisation of geothermal fluid within the area has produced 15-45MW of electricity for nearly half a century.

Landsvirkjun has been involved in preparation work for a new power station in Bjarnaflag since 1992 and the tender design and tender documents for a 45MW station are now in their final stages. Landsvirkjun hopes that the cautious construction and development of a 45MW station in Bjarnaflag, built upon extensive research and decades of experience in geothermal utilisation in the area will give sufficient grounds for permission to continue utilising the area, once the decision of the Icelandic National Planning Agency has been made and enforced.

Preperation work will be kept at minimum pending discussions with stakeholders and further decisions regarding the project´s continuation. 

No delay to the industrial development of the northeast

The potential review of the environmental assessment of the Bjarnarflag Power Station would not delay the initial stages of industrial development in the northeast. Two power projects in the area have been categorised as suitable for utilisation; Bjarnaflag and Þeistareykir Power Stations and the preparation stages for both of these are reaching completion. Available energy from other stations could also be utilised but this would be dependent upon strengthening the transmission system. 

A summary in English of the assessment carried out by Efla can be accessed here 

The complete assessment can be accessed in Icelandic here

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