Landsvirkjun is an energy company owned by the Icelandic state and generates its energy from renewable resources such as hydropower, geothermal energy and wind power.
Landsvirkjun is at the forefront of environmental issues and supports sustainable development within society. The Company is committed to acquiring knowledge on the environmental impact of its operations and to reducing any impact.
of natural resources
- The most efficient use of natural resources should be considered in the design process for new power projects and in any changes to power stations or their operation.
- The development, design and operation of energy generation should be supported by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol.
- The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology should be used to improve efficiency in the utilisation of natural resources and to reduce any impact on the environment.
- Green procurement measures should be used and environmental requirements should be set out in contracts with suppliers and service providers.
- Waste should be sorted, reused and/or recycled.
- Consistently work towards reducing GHG emissions and implementing carbon sequestration measures via vegetation and soil.
- Support energy exchange measures in transportation and follow the Company Transport Policy.
the physical landscape
- Support and maintain natural diversity and minimise any disturbance.
- Support the restoration of ecosystems and follow the Company Ecosystem Restoration Policy.
- Follow Company policy pertaining to structure design and landscaping.
- Work in accordance with sustainable development protocols including active stakeholder engagement and active involvement in cooperative projects with stakeholders
- Support open and constructive discussion and account for Landsvirkjun’s achievements in environmental matters
- Landsvirkjun's operations are certified according to the Environmental Management System ISO 14001.
- Environmental aspects in operations should be defined, managed and monitored for success.
- All legal requirements pertaining to environmental aspects should be fulfilled and more stringent requirements should be implemented where appropriate.
- Preventive measures and improvements should be actively developed through research, by outlining objectives and via registration and processing recommendations.
- Landsvirkjun’s employees and those working for the Company should have the appropriate knowledge and competence to implement the Company’s Environmental Policy.
Landsvirkjun places an emphasis on identifying the environmental impact of its operations and seeks to reduce them. The Company has defined over twenty significant environmental aspects which are monitored regularly in order to have an overview of the possible overall environmental impact. Procedures for environmental monitoring have been clearly defined and environmental aspects have been divided into three categories: Natural resources, emissions, nature and visual impact.
1 Utilising the water reserveLandsvirkjun strives to utilise water for electricity generation purposes in the most efficient manner possible. The water is mainly sourced from Iceland’s glaciers. Landsvirkjun conducts extensive research on glaciers that are important for the Company’s operations, monitoring long-term changes and glacial melt.
2 Water managementElectricity generation involves channelling the water flow from the main reservoirs to the hydropower stations to control energy generation. Water flow regulation can prevent extreme fluctuations in river water flow and rapid changes in reservoir water levels, which can have a negative effect on the ecosystem, soil and society.
3 Utilisation of groundwater, cooling waterLandsvirkjun utilises groundwater for general use and to cool equipment used in geothermal energy generation. The groundwater is one of Iceland’s most important natural resources and Landsvirkjun therefore closely monitors groundwater with the aim of ensuring the sustainable utilisation of the water resource.
4 Geothermal utilisationElectricity is generated by using geothermal heat in high-temperature fields. During the utilisation process, geothermal fluid is extracted from the boreholes, which is composed of steam, water and the various gases present in the steam. Steam is extracted from the geothermal fluid via a steam separator and effluent water is then disposed of by releasing it at the surface or by re-injecting it deep into the geothermal reservoir. Extraction can have an effect on various factors within the geothermal area including pressure levels within the geothermal reservoir, geothermal surface activity and seismic activity. Landsvirkjun monitors and controls the extraction of geothermal fluid and monitors the impact of geothermal utilisation as well as monitoring various wells. A geothermal model is used to provide an overview of the effects of utilisation and assesses the status of the system. It also calculates the distribution of mass and energy within the system.
5 Hazardous materialsHazardous materials are defined as such because of their potentially dangerous effects on organisms and humans. Landsvirkjun uses these substances for cleaning purposes, in factories and for various research and development purposes. Landsvirkjun registers its use of all hazardous materials and aims to reduce their use as much as possible.
6 ProcurementThe choice of environmentally certified goods and services can significantly reduce the environmental impact of operations. The Company seeks to reduce the environmental impact of its procurement by choosing environmentally certified products and services.
7 FuelThe burning of fossil fuel leads to the release of greenhouse gases (GHG‘s) and Landsvirkjun is committed to minimising the emission of GHG‘s by reducing the consumption of fossil fuels in its operations. Landsvirkjun monitors the handling of fossil fuels to ensure that they do not harm the ecosystem and the natural environment.
8 Electricity and hot water utilisationThe largest part of Landsvirkjun’s electricity usage is sourced from the Company's own energy generation from renewable energy resources. However, the Company also buys electricity and hot water for other parts of operation such as offices and storage facilities. Efforts are made to reduce any unnecessary energy use.
9 Gases from geothermal stationsGeothermal fluid, a blend of steam, geothermal water and geothermal gases, is extracted from boreholes during the utilisation process. The gas is mainly composed of carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and hydrogen. Landsvirkjun records the quantity and composition of gases released from geothermal power stations and releases information on GHG emissions and hydrogen sulphide concentration levels in the atmosphere from the same source.
10 Reservoir emissionsThe decomposition of vegetation and soil submerged by reservoirs results in the emission of GHGs. GHG emissions vary between reservoirs and are mainly determined by the quantity of submerged organic matter. Landsvirkjun has conducted research on GHG emissions from its reservoirs and this information is registered and accessible.
11 SF6 emissions from electrical equipmentSulphur hexafluoride (SF6) is used as an isolation material for electrical equipment. SF6 is one of the most potent GHG’s known. Landsvirkjun monitors SF6 leakage from electrical equipment and information on emissions is registered and accessible.
12 Condensate and separated waterGeothermal fluid, a blend of steam, geothermal water and geothermal gases, is extracted from the geothermal reservoir during the utilisation process. The water which contains various materials is either re-injected into the geothermal reservoir or released at the surface. The concentration of materials in the water can vary between areas and surface disposal can impact the ecosystem. Landsvirkjun therefore reinjects as much of the water as possible back into the geothermal system and monitors the potential impact on water and the ecosystem.
13 WastewaterLandsvirkjun’s wastewater consist of all wastewater water containing suspended particles. Sedimentation tanks, oil separators and septic tanks all serve a purpose in reducing the environmental impact of wastewater. The efficiency of this equipment is closely monitored and tanks are regularly emptied by authorised disposal services.
14 General wasteThe landfilling of waste results in the anaerobic decomposition of its organic content, emitting methane which is a greenhouse gas. Landsvirkjun is committed to increasing recycling and reuse in its operations which will reduce the quantity of landfilled waste. The Company is active in creating areas for waste sorting and waste storage in all of its operational areas and a record is kept on waste disposal.
15 Hazardous wasteThere are specific regulations and requirements pertaining to the disposal of containers and surplus materials labelled as hazardous materials. Hazardous waste can be flammable, irritant, corrosive and hazardous to health and the environment. All hazardous waste from Landsvirkjun’s operational areas are collected and stored in special containers. The quantity is recorded and handed over to an authorised disposal service.
16 Noise levelsNoise from Landsvirkjun’s operations primarily stems from active geothermal wells, from machinery and equipment and from wind turbines. Noise levels can affect the enjoyment of nature and constant noise can have a detrimental effect on health. Landvirkjun monitors noise levels and reduces noise by using mufflers/silencers on all well heads at its geothermal power stations.
17 Land reclamation and re-forestationLandsvirkjun has been involved in extensive land reclamation and re-forestation in the vicinity of its power stations. The objective of land reclamation is to restore land and reduce disturbance to vegetated areas. Increased knowledge on climate change has led to an increased emphasis on land reclamation and re-forestation to facilitate carbon capture.
18 Effects on the ecosystemLandsvirkjun‘s operations are accompanied by unavoidable disturbance to the natural environment and to the ecosystem as a result of water flow regulation and the development of new power stations. Extensive research and monitoring is carried out on nature and the ecosystem in the affected areas of power stations. The objective is to assess if and how operations affect the environment and how any negative impact on the environment can be minimised. The ecosystem is monitored by the Company and this includes reindeer monitoring, freshwater ecology and birdlife. Research is carried out in cooperation with the various universities, research institutes and independent experts.
19 Erosion and sedimentationChanges to the water flow in rivers and the water levels in reservoirs as well as the effects of wind, water and tide can lead to the erosion of river channels and river banks. Bed load transport from glacial rivers can accumulate in the reservoirs. Landsvirkjun does its best to regulate the water flow in river channels to minimise erosion. Regular monitoring on erosion and sedimentation is carried out and mitigation measures are implemented when and if they are needed.
20 Disturbance to landAny disturbance to land can have an effect on the ecosystem and the natural environment. Disturbance to land can be caused by material extraction, the construction of reservoirs and the construction of dams and waterways. Landsvirkjun is committed to keeping disturbance to the land to a minimum and finishing work is completed once construction work ceases in order to return the land to its former state.
21 Visual impact and landscapingAll construction work carried out by Landsvirkjun and all its operations are accompanied by unavoidable disturbance to the natural environment and larger projects can have a significant visual impact. The effects vary and are determined by the type of landscape involved. Landsvirkjun places an emphasis on creating a balance between the design of its manmade structures, the landscape and the natural environment.
Environmental management according to ISO 14001
Landsvirkjun operates according to an ISO 14001 certified Environmental Management System. The system requires the Company to outline its policies on environmental matters and to identify the potential environmental impact of its operations. Landsvirkjun sets objectives with regard to reducing the environmental impact of its operations. The standard sets out clear requirements on the achievement of these objectives and the need for continuous improvement.