Power generation has an inevitable impact on the natural environment which can result in a significant visual impact.


Extensive monitoring

Landsvirkjun has always placed a great emphasis on minimising any disturbance to the areas affected by its operations. This involves supporting and maintaining natural diversity and returning disturbed areas to their original condition as far as possible. The Company places a particular emphasis on creating an overall balance between the appearance of structures, landscaping measures and the natural landscape.

An emphasis is placed on assessing visual impact and various other environmental factors at the preparation stage. This includes extensive research on the environment and defining Landsvirkjun’s main design parameters. A number of reports are published annually showing the results of research on the natural environment and the ecosystems within Landsvirkjun's energy production areas. The reports are all available on the Company's website.


Hvammur Hydropower Station – a new and improved appearance

Landsvirkjun has for years worked on research and preparation for the proposed Hvammur Hydropower Station, which is in the utilisation category of the Master Plan (according to a parliamentary resolution passed on the1st of July, 2015). Efforts are being made to reduce visual impact and to introduce measures to help structures blend in with the natural landscape.

The overall appearance of the area is the main focus as well as ensuring the best quality of architecture in the design process, integrating an eco-friendly approach and offering tourists information and recreational opportunities. The design idea is based on a cliff face with structures almost rising from the landscape.

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Structure registration in operational areas 

The registration and evaluation of  buildings and structures owned by Landsvirkjun was carried out in Bjarnarflag, Krafla and the Laxá Stations in 2017, in accordance with the provisions of the Housing Act. The purpose of this was to ensure that any decisions regarding changes to individual buildings or groups of buildings are taken with previous knowledge of their value, their value towards the environment and to future generations.


Fljótsdalur Hydropower Station – implementation of conditions set out by the Power Development Licence

A report was published this year on the implementation of conditions outlined in the Power Development Licence for Kárahnjúkar. The results show that Landsvirkjun has fully or, as far as possible, fulfilled the conditions for the Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Station Power Development Licence.

The conditions outlined by the Power Development Licence can be divided into three categories:

  • Conditions imposed by the Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources in connection with his assessment of the environmental impact.
  • Landsvirkjun's promises in the assessment report and the appeal as a result of the ruling by the Planning Agency.
  • Conditions set out by the Ministry of Industries and Innovation in the Power Development Licence.

The Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources decided against supplying water from the rivers in Fljótsdalsheiði and the waterway from Hraunar, to the south of Fljótsdalur was shortened. There were also a number of changes to particular project components. The main change was a change of location to the spillover from Desjarárdalur to the main dam by Kárahnjúkar.

A request was also made that operations would be managed in such a manner that water could be frequently allowed to flow into the waterfalls in Jökulsá í Fljótsdal which are considered valuable tourist sites.

Water has flowed to the waterfalls in late summer since operations began at the power station in 2009, with the exception of 2015, when the water year was particularly poor.


Reindeer research

Landsvirkjun's participation in reindeer research is part of the conditions outlined in the Power development Licence and is implemented in consultation with the East Iceland Nature Research Centre. The main objective of these studies is to monitor the impact of construction on the distribution of animals. This is carried out by mapping their distribution and behaviour during the calving period, by continuous monitoring, using GPS technology.

The number of animals increased during the construction period. The animals first migrated to the Snæfellsöræfi Wilderness and then finally north to the highlands beyond Vopnafjörður and Þistilfjörður (out of the area) and eastward. These developments were noted before construction began and there is still a great deal of uncertainty about possible causes. Such significant changes to distribution have previously been observed. An emphasis will be placed on linking reindeer and vegetation monitoring with regard to grazing loads in the near future.


Approximately 70 km2 of land has been reclaimed to replace the land submerged by the Hálslón Reservoir or disturbed by other causes. The area was mainly reclaimed in the highland areas beyond the Jökuldalur Valley and on the drift plains in Jökulsár á Dal in the Úthéraði area. The reclamation measures absorb carbon dioxide and therefore reduce the greenhouse effect as well as improving land quality in the area. The increased quality of land will eventually lead to carbon sequestration levels being greater than the GHG emissions from the reservoir.


The Þeistareykir Geothermal Power Station- finishing work on road verges and utilising the herbage layer

Attempts were made to use vegetation and soil removed from the construction site to re-vegetate road verges and other disturbed areas in various areas at Þeistareykir.

These measures proved successful and facilitated the use of local vegetation which generally blends in better with the environment than vegetation that thrives as a result of road verge re-vegetation measures using fertiliser. This also maintains and preserves the biodiversity of the area.

However, the progress of the vegetation communities in areas cultivated in this manner is unclear. Disturbed soil on road verges could have a negative impact on certain plant species, and the composition of the vegetation community may change over time.

The North East Iceland Nature Center and East Iceland Nature Research Centre investigated various reclamation measures alongside the Þeistareykir Road in the summer of 2017. Vegetation cover and species were registered. The study will be repeated in a few years’ time and this will allow for the assessment of "resilient" reclaimed areas.

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