Windfarm - prelimanary design

EFLA did a preliminary design/project design and a feasibility study for a wind farm in several potential areas near Hafið, a lava plain above Búrfell mountain in South Iceland.

In addition, EFLA did studies and research for the project and assisted with the environmental impact assessment. EFLA also provided data and assisted with preparation for the Master Plan for Nature Protection and Energy Utilization.

About this Project

Landsvirkjun, National Power Company


Hafið, Rangárþing, Iceland


The project's objective

The main goal of the project was to see whether the Þjórsá and Tungnaá area is a realistic and economically feasible alternative for harnessing wind energy for future purposes.

This was done by:

  • Assessing the wind energy potential of the area with detailed wind measurements and simulations,
  • Presenting, viewing and analysing different suggestions regarding size and position of the wind farm, in order to assess costs and find the most economically feasible solution,
  • Performing the studies, research and preparatory work necessary for preliminary/project design,
  • Assessing the potentially added value of a windfarm into the power system as a whole, and the opportunities that lie in the synergy between wind- and hydropower,
  • Preparing the environmental impact assessment and identifying the need for changes in municipal plans, master plans and local plans,
  • Reviewing the legal framework, rules and regulations, both existing and work on those in need of improvement.

What were the challenges in this project?

One of the bigger challenges was to deal with and manage the many stakeholders and their interests. A very thorough risk assessment and stakeholder analysis was conducted for this project, as well as a draft of a communication plan. Attempts were made to meet most of the stakeholders and present the project to them in a timely manner to get their point of view.

Another big challenge was the regulatory framework, which is both unclear and inadequate regarding wind power in Iceland. The framework, rules and regulations were therefore briefly viewed and potential risk in that regard analysed.

In addition, a risk assessment for preparation and design of all main project components was conducted.

Planning issues in the area also proved a challenge throughout the project.

A number of trials were faced in the structural design of the wind farm. The wind farm is located on a strata that consists of thick lava and gravel layers, that needed to be explored thoroughly by drilling and taking samples from the layers.

Hafið lava plain is located at the outer boundaries of the southern seismic zone and seismic activity exists in the area. The geological profile under the wind turbine foundations can have major impact on seismic loads on the wind turbines. Therefore, an extensive seismic study was conducted and executed by the Earthquake Engineering Research Centre at the University of Iceland. Results indicated that seismic loads can magnify due to the geological profile and can be a dominant factor in the design of the foundation and tower.

All of the aforementioned challenges were demanding but at the same time exciting and interesting. Valuable experience was gained from this project especially in relation to structural design and environmental and planning issues. The project was unique in that many of the project components have no precedent in Iceland.

Environmental issues

Landsvirkjun strives to be at the forefront of environmental issues and promote sustainable development. The company emphasizes the importance of acquiring knowledge on potential environmental impacts of its operations and minimizing these impacts.

For the Windfarm in the Þjórsá and Tungnaá area, this policy was used as a guideline throughout the project in consultation and design. Additionally, EFLA's policy on environment and safety issues was also implemented and pursued during the project.

Data analysis, studies and results from EFLA's preliminary design were useful for the environmental impact assessment and for the Master Plan for Nature Protection and Energy Utilization, especially data and documents related to society, tourism, noise, visibility and shadow flicker. In addition, information and results from the geological survey, studies on building material and a summary on local natural hazards proved useful.

Efforts were made to minimize the carbon footprint of the projects. EFLA showed initiative regarding this by examining the possibility of using "green" concrete for the foundation of the turbines, that is, a more environmentally-friendly concrete. This study was executed by the Icelandic Innovation Center.

EFLA's role

This project is the first of its kind in Iceland. EFLA did everything in relation to preliminary and project design of a few different areas at Hafið and prepared that parallel to the environmental impact assessment. EFLA also prepared documents for the third phase of the Master Plan for Nature Protection and Energy Utilization.

EFLA's role in this project consisted of the following components:

  • Preliminary/project design and optimization of the size and arrangement of the wind farm within a predefined area
  • Estimation on energy production based on simulations and data analysis (from met masts and weather data)
  • Investigate the area for different turbine sizes with focus on construction and operation as well as social and environmental factors
  • Risk analysis and risk register, as well as a detailed stakeholder analysis
  • Update aerial images and detailed contour lines
  • Geological surveys and drilling to map the strata of the area
  • Studies and investigations on the building material available on/near site
  • Geological and quarry report
  • Concrete material studies and reporting, including "green" concrete
  • Inspection and design of the electrical system within the area and potential connections to the system
  • Design of foundation, roads and crane pads
  • Summary of natural hazards in the area, including icing, wind loads, ash loads, potential volcanic eruptions, floods and earthquakes
  • Summary of the main load and design criteria
  • Cost estimates and project planning
  • Planning issues
  • Environmental issues
  • Summary of data and documentation for an environmental impact assessment and the Master Plan for Nature Protection and Energy Utilization, regarding shadow flicker, visual impacts, noise, arrangement of turbines, connections to the grid, substations, roads and other infrastructure

The project's long term benefits

An environmentally-friendly option functioning as the third pillar in the foundation of Landsvirkjun's energy mix.