Renewable energy refers to energy extracted from sources that are naturally replenished and regenerated over a period of time. Sustainable utilisation prevents the depletion of natural resources, thereby supporting this natural balance.
A continuously renewed energy source
Sustainable energy production describes how an energy resource is utilised, and renewability describes the nature of the resource.
A renewable resource can therefore be utilised in a sustainable or unsustainable manner.
Energy generated by utilising natural resources such as hydropower, wind energy and geothermal energy is categorised as renewable, as these energy sources are naturally replenished if properly utilised. Energy sources reliant on oil, coal and gas are considered non-renewable, as they cannot be replenished.
Sustainable development refers to long-term development that focuses on preserving and conserving healthy and productive natural systems, supporting social advancement and increasing economic value.
Landsvirkjun supports the sustainable utilisation of natural resources by following clearly defined work procedures and a comprehensive CSR Policy. We also use the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) to further support the sustainable utilisation we already practice.
The water year 2018/2019
The water year begins on the 1st of October every year. The reservoirs are generally at their highest level during this period due to spring weather, glacial ablation and autumn rains. The 2018/2019 water year was average. Most of the reservoirs filled up before the end of the water year and many reached spillover.
The water year began with a cold October and relatively little inflow to the reservoirs, but the subsequent warm autumn and winter conditions brought relatively high precipitation levels and frequent winter storms. Reservoir inflow was therefore above average for the season. A rapid and sudden spring melt in April created a turnaround in the reservoir drawdown rate. There was relatively little snowfall in May and June which substantially reduced inflow levels and glacial ablation finally occurred during a particularly warm July. August was unusually cold, inhibiting typical ablation levels that didn’t recover until the end of September.
The figure shows Landsvirkjun’s reservoir water levels by month. You can click on each month to see more information on the water level status.
Geothermal resources 2019
One of Landsvirkjun’s guiding principles is the responsible and sustainable utilisation of geothermal resources. Landsvirkjun operates three geothermal stations at Krafla, Bjarnarflag and Þeistareykir. Extensive geothermal research is carried out in the area, both in connection with current operations and in connection with potential future utilisation in other areas.
Geothermal fluid is composed of steam, water and the various gases present in the steam, and is extracted from the geothermal system at a depth of 2,000 metres during the utilisation process. Energy is generated by utilising the steam. Most of the water is then re-injected into the geothermal system (deep re-injection) or released into surface water. The gases and some of the steam evaporate from the cooling tower and are released into the atmosphere.
In 2019, approx. 16,600 thousand tonnes of geothermal fluid was extracted from the geothermal area utilised by Landsvirkjun in the Northeast of Iceland. More than half of the fluid, or 8,330 thousand tonnes, was reinjected back into the geothermal system.
Production and reinjection
Improved utilisation of natural resources
We are constantly looking for innovative ways to support the sustainable use of resources. We focused on two projects in 2019: A new approach to flexible production within the production system and a development project on real-time measurements.
Flexible geothermal production
Landsvirkjun follows a policy of flexible geothermal utilisation.
We assess the total inflow into our hydropower and geothermal power stations and subsequently decide which power stations should produce the most energy. This means that we can utilise less geothermal energy when our hydropower reservoirs are full.
Krafla Geothermal Power Station was operated somewhat below full capacity during most of 2018 and 2019.
This system supports the efficient utilisation of natural resources by utilising water that would otherwise spillover in our reservoirs. Improved utilisation increases the sustainability of our operations by conserving geothermal reserves and reducing the need for maintenance drilling at geothermal sites, thereby supporting more efficient operations.
This approach has so far proven successful, as Krafla Geothermal Power Station was operated somewhat below full capacity during most of 2018 and 2019.