Nature & Environment Jun 17, 2020

Landsvirkjun Plans to Expand to Hydropower Energy In Iceland

The National Power Company of Iceland is embarking on new ventures with the goal of securing a carbon-free, green future.

Landsvirkjun, the National Power Company of Iceland, announced it is planning to build a hydrogen production facility that promises to significantly decrease carbon emissions. The proposed facility would break ground at the Ljósifoss Hydropower Station, around 70km from Reykjavík. Running at full capacity, the station would be equipped to power all public transportation vehicles in the Reykjavík area. Following a presentation by Landsvirkjun, the District Board of Grímsnes and Grafnings will decide whether the plan will proceed. 

The hydrogen production process uses renewable power to split water into its two elements, hydrogen and oxygen, using an electricity-powered electrolyser. In the past, hydrogen has been primarily produced using natural gas, which leaves a large carbon footprint. Because the station’s hydrogen would be produced using renewable energy, it would be essentially carbon-free, providing immense environmental benefits. 

However, a few challenges do exist; because it is low in energy per volume, hydrogen is expensive to store and transport. Its flammability also presents restrictions and regulations when it comes to storage tanks. Despite these limitations, hydrogen remains an effective carbon-cutting energy alternative. 

Switching to hydrogen transport fuel would significantly aid decarbonization throughout Iceland’s largest city. Currently, about 4% of Iceland’s automotive fleet is made up of commercial freight vehicles, contributing to 15% of the country’s transport emissions on land. In addition to public transport, the new facility would also allow commercial players to make the switch to hydrogen.

Other countries are reconsidering hydrogen, too. Both Japan and the European Union have also announced plans to incorporate hydrogen power into their energy systems. The resurgence of hydrogen is attributed to its use as an alternative transport fuel in electricity production and heating, and in various industrial processes. 

With its versatility and carbon-free possibilities, a transition to hydropower has the potential to benefit Iceland’s pristine environment. For now, Landsvirkjun awaits the District Board of Grímsnes and Grafnings’ decision on the Hydropower Station. 

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