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Although the use of renewable energy resources is central to Landsvirkjun’s operations, the Company is also committed to sustainable utilisation. The reduction of gas emissions (GHG) released into the atmosphere is one of the factors that must be considered. Landsvirkjun is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and intends to become a carbon neutral company.

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Summary of GHG emissions from Landsvirkjun’s operations

The total quantity of GHG emissions from Landsvirkjun’s operations in 2014 was approx. 53 thousand tonnes of CO2 equivalents.

The largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be traced to Landsvirkjun’s geothermal power stations and the reservoirs at the Company’s hydropower stations. Other emissions can be traced to the burning of fossil fuels, air travel and waste disposal.

The total quantity of GHG emissions from Landsvirkjun’s operations in 2014 was approx. 53 thousand tonnes of CO2 equivalent. This is a 7% increase when compared with 2013. However, emissions were 5% less than the average values for the last five years which shows positive development.

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GHG emissions from geothermal power stations

The total quantity of GHG emissions from geothermal stations in 2014 was 37 thousand tonnes of CO2 equivalent. This is an increase from the previous year and can be traced to a new gas-rich well, connected to production at Krafla. This well is responsible for the increase between years but interference tests conducted in the Þeistareykir and Krafla area are also responsible as the testing process allows natural gases to flow unhindered from the research wells.

GHG emissions from hydropower station reservoirs

The total quantity of GHG emissions from hydropower station reservoirs in 2014 was 14 thousand tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
There is almost no release of carbon dioxide when reservoirs are covered in ice. Records show that the Blanda Reservoir was ice-free for 190 days and the Gilsárlón Reservoir for 187 days in 2014. These two reservoirs release the most GHG emissions.

GHG emissions from the burning of fossil fuels

GHG emissions from the burning of fossil fuels is calculated from the total amount of fuel consumed during Landsvirkjun’s operations and on the number of flights taken by employees.

The GHG emissions from the burning of fossil fuels in 2014 were approx. 693 tonnes of CO2-eq. Diesel consumption accounted for 665 tonnes of the total GHG emissions and petrol accounted for 28 tonnes.

The GHG emissions from international air travel in 2014 was 230 tonnes of CO2-eq. International air travel accounted for 109 tonnes of the total GHG emissions and domestic flights accounted for 109 tonnes.

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GHG emissions from landfills and equipment

In 2014, there was a significant reduction in unsorted waste sent for landfill when compared with the previous year and a concurrent decrease in GHG emissions which is in line with Landsvirkjun‘s objective to decrease emissions in its operations.

The total quantity of GHG emissions as a result of landfilled waste from Landsvirkjun’s operations in 2014 was 22 tonnes of CO2 equivalents.

SF6 gas is used as an isolation material for high voltage equipment at the Fljótsdalur Hydropower Station in the Þjórsá area and a leakage or accident could result in the gas being released.

The total quantity of GHG emissions from electrical equipment in 2014 was 48 tonnes of CO2 equivalents. The emissions can be allocated to a leakage during a five year period between 2010 and 2014, as emissions are only recorded when the system undergoes a refill.

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Landsvirkjun’s carbon footprint

Landsvirkjun’s carbon footprint is defined as the total set of annual GHG emissions from Landsvirkjun’s operations including carbon binding, i.e. the carbon binding measures implemented by Landsvirkjun.

Landsvirkjun has been involved in the extensive land reclamation and re-forestation of the areas surrounding their power stations for over forty years and the Company’s annual carbon binding is estimated to be 22 thousand tonnes of CO2-eq per year.

Carbon binding measures include the reduction of GHG emissions by binding carbon dioxide in vegetation. Iceland has vast areas of tundra and re-vegetation measures are used for carbon binding.

Landsvirkjun has worked in cooperation with Kolviður Fund since 2013 on the neutralisation of all carbon emissions as a result of Landsvirkjun’s use of petrol and diesel for transportation purposes, the international and domestic air travel of employees and finally the disposal of waste. These emissions were equal to approx. 945 tonnes of CO2-eq in 2014 and have been neutralised via carbon binding in reforested areas of the country.

Landsvirkjun’s carbon footprint was approx. 30 thousand tonnes CO2-eq in 2014 if total carbon binding measures are included. This is an increase of 14% from the previous year but a decrease of 19% if the last five years are considered. The reduction can mostly be attributed to increased carbon binding measures and a decrease in emissions from geothermal power stations as a result of changes in gas flow properties from the geothermal reservoir.

The ‘carbon footprint’ is defined as the total amount of GHG’s released into the atmosphere as a result of anthropogenic activities or a calculation of the GHG emissions released directly and indirectly by our daily activities.

GHG emissions from Landsvirkjun’s operations in 2014 were approx. 3.9 tonnes CO2-eq/GWh if carbon binding is not included. Emissions were 2.1 tonnes CO2-eq/GWh if carbon binding is included.

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Greenhouse gas emissions can vary substantially when hydropower and geothermal power stations are compared. The GHG emissions for every GWh produced by geothermal stations were 72.5 tonnes CO2-eq/GWh, if carbon binding is not included and approx. 70.6 tonnes CO2-eq/GWh if carbon binding is included.

Landsvirkjun has completed carbon binding measures beyond emissions in the amount of 0.54 tonnes CO2-eq for every GWh produced via hydropower.

The GHG emissions for every GWh produced by hydropower stations were significantly lower or approx. 1.25 tonnes CO2-eq/GWh, if carbon binding is not included and negative (by -0.54 tonnes CO2-eq/GWh) if carbon binding is included.

Landsvirkjun has therefore carried out carbon binding measures, beyond its emissions, in the amount of 0.54 tonnes CO2-eq for every GWh produced via hydropower. More information on GHG emissions can be found in the numerical data section.

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Hydrogen sulphide emissions from geothermal power stations

Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is not a greenhouse gas but can have a negative impact on humans and the ecosystem. Hydrogen sulphide emissions, have until now, been an unavoidable part of the geothermal utilisation process in Iceland. Natural emissions from geothermal areas also affect the concentration of hydrogen sulphide in the atmosphere.

Landsvirkjun monitors hydrogen sulphide concentration levels in the atmosphere, as a result of geothermal utilisation, in the northeast of Iceland. Measurements have been conducted in residential areas in Reykjahlíð (Helluhraun) and in the Kelduhverfi area since February, 2011. Two more monitoring stations were set up in the Mývatn area in 2013.

Main results for 2014:

  • The yearly average for hydrogen sulphide concentrations in the Kelduhverfi area was 0.84 ± 3 µg/m3 and 5.00 ± 3 µg/m3 in the Reykjahlíðar School area.
  • Taking into account the measurement error, the yearly average of hydrogen sulphide did not surpass set health limits (5±3 μg/m3) in 2014.
  • The set daily limit for the moving average of hydrogen sulphide never surpassed 50 µg/m3 in Reykjahlíð or in the Kelduhverfi area.

There are clear indications that the volcanic eruption in Holuhraun has affected measured H2S-values, especially in the Kelduhverfi area. More detailed information on air quality monitoring after the volcanic activity can be found in the chapter on Research and Development in Landsvirkjun’s Annual Report.

Real time monitoring information on hydrogen sulphide concentrations by Mývatn can be found on the Company website.

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