Landsvirkjun Restrictions to Last Longer than Expected

Landsvirkjun, the National Power Company of Iceland, has had to restrict power supplied to industrial production companies to a greater degree than expected, RÚV reports.

Though the power company often reduces its production in the winter, poor reservoir conditions have led to a greater than usual reduction in service. The reductions could have an impact in the hundreds of millions of ISK.

Nearly 10% of power

The reduction began shortly before the new year, and now amounts to around 10% of power delivered to industrial production companies.

In a statement to RÚV, Director of Management Valur Ægisson stated that the ongoing restrictions can be chalked up to poor water flow, as water levels in reservoirs have dropped rapidly. He cited that Blöndulón, a reservoir in North Iceland, has never been this low at this time of year.

The restrictions were initially applied to fish processing plants and data centres. However, restrictions were then also applied to industrial plants such as Elkem, Norðurál, and Rio Tinto.

Waiting for spring

Valur stated further to RÚV that the extent of the restriction amounts to tens of gigawatt-hours per month. The average monthly sales of Landsvirkjun are around 1250 gigawatt-hours.

The restrictions could result in considerable lost revenue for Landsvirkjun. “I can’t give an exact figure, but it measures in hundreds of millions,” stated Valur to RÚV.

Like much of the nation, the situation has the energy company waiting on the arrival of spring and the accompanying meltwater.  “That’s essentially what we’re waiting for, for warmer weather, rain, and see the snow melting in the highlands. When that happens, we can turn things around relatively quickly,” Valur stated.

 

 

Bitcoin Mining a Growing “Waste of Energy” in Iceland

Neither Icelandic authorities nor data centres in Iceland will reveal how much energy is used to mine Bitcoin or other digital currencies in Iceland, Snæbjörn Guðmundsson of nature conservation organisation Náttúrugrið told Vísir. Data centres use 30% more energy in Iceland than all Icelandic homes put together, and while the percentage of this energy that goes toward Bitcoin mining is not public knowledge, it could be as high as 90%.

Iceland’s abundance of renewable energy and cheap power has had both data centres and Bitcoin mining operations flocking to the country in recent years to set up shop. Iceland’s cool climate is another benefit, as data centres produce a lot of heat that would require additional energy to cool if located in a warmer climate. Both politicians and environmental activists have questioned the benefit of Bitcoin and digital currency mining operations for the Icelandic nation as well as their impact on the environment.

New hydropower plant could be used to mine Bitcoin

A 2018 report by KPMG stated that around 90% of energy used by data centres in Iceland had gone toward mining Bitcoin. In a column in Vísir, Snæbjörn refers to a recent analysis by Bitcoin expert Jaran Mellerud, who estimates that Bitcoin mining in Iceland uses around 120 MW of power, or around 85% of the 140 MW of power used by the country’s data centres in 2022. These figures have not changed much in recent years despite assertions from Iceland’s National Power Company (Landsvirkjun) that they would reduce the sale of Iceland’s energy to Bitcoin mining operations.

Snæbjörn is concerned that the proposed Hvammsvirkjun hydropower plant in South Iceland’s Þjórsá river would be used to power further Bitcoin mining in Iceland, although the National Power Company has stated that power plants would not be built solely for the energy needs of Bitcoing mining centres.

New York-based Bitcoin mining company told the Wall Street Journal last month that they would expand their operations in Iceland in response to an impending tax on Bitcoin mining in the United States. At the same time, Icelandic energy companies have stated there is no capacity for increased digital currency mining in the country.

“This is a waste of energy that should not be happening in a society like the one we live in today,” Snæbjörn stated.

Power Outage in Downtown Reykjavík

power outage downtown reykjavík

Parts of downtown Reykjavík were without power this morning due to a high-voltage failure.

According to utility company Veitur, work began on the power outage around 9:10 this morning. The outage is reported to have occurred around 8:00.

Some downtown businesses were affected, needing to open later because of the outages.

Veitur states that as of 10:05, power has been restored in all areas of downtown Reykjavík.

Power Outage Leaves Keflavík International on Backup Power

Keflavík airport

A power outage left all of Suðurnes, the part of the Reykjanes peninsula outside the capital area, without power for some time yesterday. As of the time of writing, power has been restored in all areas.

The outage began around 3:00 PM yesterday and power was largely restored by 6:00 PM.

For some time during the outage, Keflavík International Airport needed to run on backup power.

In a statement to Morgunblaðið, Isavia information officer Guðjón Helgason said that all backup power generators were in operation, and that the operations were not affected. There were no disruptions to the electrical system, but no hot water was available for some time. Guðjón further stated that Keflavík was capable of running on backup power for significant periods of time.

Thankfully, the most serious disruption were to handball viewership. After Suðurnes residents expressed their fears that they may miss the South Korea – Iceland match, the local Search and Rescue team “Þorbjörn” stepped in.

Grindavík residents were invited to watch the match at the local Search and Rescue station, which has its own backup power generator. Bogi Adolfsson, chairperson of Þorbjörn, stated to Morgunblaðið that about 30 people were in attendance and that it was a “great atmosphere.” Iceland beat South Korea 38 – 25 in the Kristianstad match, Iceland’s last match in the D Group.

The power outage was caused by a disruption in a substation in Fitjar, a district in Reykjanesbær.

Power Outage for Half of Iceland Over Weekend

iceland power outage

Yesterday, September 25, half of Iceland was without power due an outage whose cause still remains unknown. Areas of Iceland affected include from Blönduós to Höfn, the entirety of northern and eastern Iceland. Such a widespread power outage is nearly unprecedented.

The power outage began around noon yesterday and is said to have last two hours in most regions and up to three in others.

A public Facebook announcement by Landsnet regarding the outages can be seen below.

The power outage was caused by a disruption to the Fljótsdal line, which runs from the Alcoa aluminum smelter to Kárahnjúkavirkjun. The cause of the damage is not known at this time.

In a statement to RÚV, Steinunn Þorsteinsdóttir, information officer at Landsnet, stated that the Fljótsdal line created a chain reaction, resulting in the widespread outages.

“It’s not very often we have nearly half the country without power at once,” she said. Alcoa aluminum smelter is also reported to have been offline during the outages.

“At this stage, we don’t know exactly what happened,” Steinunn said. “Our priority was to bring the electricity back to the area. Now that it’s back on, it’s time to take a look at what happened.”

More Energy Needed to Ensure Green Transition, Government Report Indicates

Krafla Mývatnssveit power plant electricity

Iceland will have to increase energy production by 125% in order to achieve a full transition to green energy, a new government report indicates. Iceland’s Environment Minister says the report can be used as a basis for decision making, but it is up to authorities how they apply the information provided. The CEO of the Icelandic Environment Association has stated that building additional power plants entails sacrificing Icelandic nature and is not a necessary step toward achieving the country’s environmental goals.

“It’s clear that this is necessary if we are to achieve the energy transition, Iceland’s Minister of the Environment, Energy, and Climate, Guðlaugur Þór Guðluagsson, stated. “However, there are many ways to achieve that goal. And this is not a policy. It is, however, a status report and highlights how things stand. Now it is up to the Parliament and the government to work it out, how to best handle this issue.”

Innovation depends on energy availability

The report proposes six scenarios for the future of energy production in Iceland, five of which entail increasing energy production. Only four scenarios assume that the country will achieve a full energy transition by 2040: that is, completely stop the use of fossil fuels within the next 18 years. If this goal is taken into account, and a rise in energy-intensive industry is assumed, then Iceland will need to produce 125% more energy than it does today. Ensuring those energy needs are met would not only require additional power plants, but increased efficiency at existing plants, energy-saving measures, and more efficient energy usage.

Read More: Iceland’s Plan to Become Carbon Neutral by 2040

Energy production is also a key factor in innovation and job creation across Iceland, according to Sigríður Mogensen, a department head at the Federation of Icelandic Industries, and one of the authors of the government report. “Many projects have been in the works and in development, whether it is food production projects, biotechnology projects, algae cultivation, and I could go on, which have unfortunately not been possible due to a lack of electricity or the weak state of the electricity transmission system.”

Entails sacrificing Icelandic nature

“It’s a question of what decisions we make. If this becomes a reality, then we’re making the decision to sacrifice Icelandic nature,” Auður Önnu Magnúsdóttir, CEO of the Icelandic Environment Association, stated in response to the report. She does not agree that a 125% hike in energy production is necessary in order to achieve a full energy transition.

Auður has argued for “real energy-saving measures, such as diversifying tourism, coastal shipping, such as building passive buildings, using heat pumps, and taking real energy efficiency measures, such as using waste heat from power plants. Today, 80% of the energy that is produced, it goes directly to big industry. That is not sensible prioritising.”