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Landsvirkjun is committed to recognising and monitoring the environmental impact of its operations and seeks to reduce them.

One of our Company objectives is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, noise and pollutants released into the environment.

Section #Theatmosphere
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The atmosphere

Electricity generation should be conducted in a sustainable manner and should limit greenhouse gas emissions.

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The total quantity of GHG emissions from Landsvirkjun’s operations in 2015 was approximately 52 thousand tonnes of CO2 equivalents, a reduction of 1% from 2014

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The largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be traced to Landsvirkjun’s geothermal power stations which account for 68% of emissions. The reservoirs at the Company’s hydropower stations account for 29% and less than 3% is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, waste disposal and SF6 emissions from electrical equipment.

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Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is not a greenhouse gas but it can have a negative impact on humans and the ecosystem. Hydrogen sulphide is released during the geothermal utilisation process but is also naturally released from geothermal areas which can affect the concentration in the atmosphere.

Landsvirkjun monitors hydrogen sulphide concentration levels in the atmosphere, as a result of geothermal utilisation; in the northeast of Iceland. The monitoring results for 2015 show that the rolling average concentration level of hydrogen sulphide, over a 24 hour period, never exceeded health limits at Landsvirkjun’s monitoring stations. The yearly average for hydrogen sulphide concentrations in 2015 were within set health limits at all of Landsvirkjun’s monitoring stations.

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Section #Waterandsoil
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Water and soil

Landsvirkjun is committed to utilising natural resources in the most efficient manner and to reducing the emission of pollutants into the environment. Landsvirkjun operates two geothermal power stations in the northeast of Iceland, at Krafla and Bjarnarflag. The Company also conducts geothermal research pertaining to the proposed power station at Þeistareykir, the expansion of Krafla and proposed power station projects at Bjarnarflag and Hágöngur.

5,099 thousand tonnes of steam were utilised in 2015 to generate 497 GWh of electricity in the Mývatn area.

Used water from geothermal stations contains heavy metals in small amounts including arsenic and nutrients which mostly originate from geothermal fluid. High concentrations can affect the groundwater and ecosystem, if disposed of at the surface.

According to the operating permits, the geothermal brine at Krafla and Bjarnarflag can be disposed of at the surface if the resulting concentration of pollutants in the groundwater flow is under the environmental limit. Extensive monitoring is carried out on groundwater in these areas to monitor the potential effects of used geothermal water from the power stations. The concentration of arsenic in groundwater (measured on an annual basis) has always been below Environmental Limit 1 in Langavogur and Vogaflói.

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Location of power stations and sampling points

The effects of effluent water from the Krafla and Bjarnarflag stations are closely monitored.

Sampling points
Power stations
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Extensive measurements on the groundwater in these areas are carried out annually to monitor the potential impact of used geothermal water from the power stations.

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These environmental effects can be reduced by re-injecting used water into the geothermal system. However, surface disposal is sometimes essential. The disposal of used water into surface water was systematically reduced between 2011 and 2015.

Re-injection measures have been increased alongside this reduction and approx. 80% of geothermal brine is now re-injected back into the geothermal system.

According to the operating permits, geothermal brine at Krafla and Bjarnarflag can be disposed of at the surface, if the resulting concentration of pollutants in the groundwater flow is under the environmental limit. Extensive measurements are carried out on groundwater in these areas to monitor the potential effects of used geothermal water from the stations. The concentration of pollutants found in groundwater samples which are measured on an annual basis at Vogaflói and Langavogur has always been below the set environmental limits.

Section #Waste
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Waste

Landsvirkjun seeks to reduce the amount of unsorted and landfilled waste by increasing the recycling and reuse of the waste produced by the Company's operations. All waste is sorted and registered.

The quantity of waste can vary considerably between years and mostly depends on the scale of maintenance projects carried out in any given year. Waste from Landsvirkjun’s operations can be divided into the following categories:

  • Waste for reuse or recycling
  • Inert waste
  • Waste for disposal

The total amount of waste produced in 2015 was 163 tonnes. Approx. 120 tonnes of waste were sent away for recycling or reuse, 43 tonnes were sent away for disposal and there was approx. one tonne of inert waste.

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All hazardous waste produced as a result of Landsvirkjun’s operations is sorted and registered. In 2015, approximately 14 tonnes of hazardous waste was handed over to recognised waste disposal services where they are handled in accordance with legal requirements and regulations. Waste oil accounts for the largest quantity of hazardous waste produced during operations.

Section #Publishedmaterials
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Published materials

Landsvirkjun carries out extensive monitoring and detailed research within the areas affected by its operations. The Company also conducts extensive research on the long- term effects of its operations via monitoring and measurements.

The research is carried out in cooperation with the various universities, research institutes and independent specialists. A number of reports are released every year and most of these are available (in Icelandic) via the website Gegnir.is and at the Company library. The reports are mostly only available in Icelandic.

Section #Appendix