Former OR CEO: Geothermal Debate Reeks Politics Skip to content

Former OR CEO: Geothermal Debate Reeks Politics

The debate about Hellisheiðarvirkjun power plant not being able to harness sufficient geothermal energy to meet demands is part of the fight against aluminum smelters in Iceland, according to former CEO of Reykjavík Energy (OR) Guðmundur Þóroddsson.

powerplant_psArchive photo: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review.

“To me it sounds like a political plot in the fight against building more aluminum smelters in Iceland. It reeks of people trying to kill or delay the Hverahlíð power plant. It’s part of the global fight against international corporations, which I find taints all environmental debates in Iceland,” commented Guðmundur to Fréttablaðið.

“They are trying to make it look as if smelters are evil,” added Guðmundur, who is now CEO of Reykjavík Geothermal. OR is considering connecting Hellisheiðarvirkjun with the geothermal area in Hverahlíð, the energy of which is earmarked for the Norðurál – Century Aluminum smelter under construction in Helguvík.

Guðmundur reasons that the situation of Hellisheiðarvirkjun is made to look worse than it is. Maintenance holes have not been drilled as planned. According to Guðmundur, at least nine to ten holes can be drilled in the area around Hellisheiðarvirkjun which would suffice to maintain full capacity given the current 2.3 percent annual decline of six MW.

“To claim to have steaming holes in Hverahlíð and that it’s more sensible to use them than invest in new holes is one thing. Also that it’s more beneficial for the operation to have the plant next to Hellisheiðarvirkjun. But to claim that there’s not enough energy is a whole other discussion,” Guðmundur stated.

Guðmundur claimed that he has not seen any data indicating that the geothermal area is being drained more rapidly than expected and that no one has maintained that there is not enough energy in the Hellisheiði area.

“So it is sad that with this reckless talk people are jeopardizing the export of geothermal knowledge, which delivers millions to the national economy each year. All such talk is taken advantage of by our competitors abroad. That must be taken into account,” Guðmundur concluded.

Former rector of the University of Iceland, physicist Sveinbjörn Björnsson, stated that geothermal power plants must be built in stages. Hellisheiðarvirkjun should not have been expanded as quickly as it was.

“Geothermal power plants cannot be relied on unless they’re given time by building them in stages so that people come to understand how much they can produce,” said Sveinbjörn, adding that each stage should be about 50 MW.

Hellisheiðarvirkjun’s full capacity was 303 MW until the end of last year. Since then, it has dropped to 276 MW. Scientists estimate that the capacity will continue to drop by six MW per year on average.


11.06.2013 | Environmentalists Concerned about Geothermal Area

10.06.2013 | Iceland Geothermal Power Plant Unsustainable


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