© 2021 Iceland Renewable Energy Cluster
Iceland and Hydropower
The first hydropower plant in Iceland started operation in 1904 in Hafnafjörður. Reykjavík saw its first hydropower plant set up in 1921 and Akureyri in 1922. With these plants the electricity market in Iceland was created. In 1965, Iceland established the national power company Landsvirkjun to “optimize the country’s natural energy resources and to encourage foreign investors within power intensive industries to invest in Iceland.” Bigger hydropower development started in the early 1970s. Today, the country has an installed hydropower power generation capacity of 2,204 MW. This represents around 72% of the whole power generation capacity in Iceland.
Iceland participated actively in the development and establishment of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol and was one of the early supporters and is actively an active user.
Icelandic companies have been engaged internationally in the development of hydropower plants of various sizes. Be in touch should you be interested in learning more.
What is hydropower?
Hydroelectric power is produced from moving water. Because the source of hydroelectric power is water, hydroelectric power plants are usually located on or near a water source. The volume of the water flow and the change in elevation (or fall) from one point to another determine the amount of available energy in moving water.
What are the benefits of using hydropower?
Hydroelectric energy is renewable. This means that we cannot use up. However, there’s only a limited number of suitable reservoirs where hydroelectric power plants can be built.
Hydroelectricity is very reliable energy. There are very little fluctuations in terms of the electric power that is being by the plants, unless a different output is desired. Countries that have large resources of hydropower use hydroelectricity as a base load energy source. As long as there is water in the magazines electricity can be generated.
Hydroelectric power is a domestic source of energy, allowing each state to produce their own energy without being reliant on international fuel sources.
Fast Response Time
Some hydropower facilities can quickly go from zero power to maximum output. Because hydropower plants can generate power to the grid immediately, they provide essential back-up power during major electricity outages or disruptions.
Frequently asked questions
How does hydropower work?
There are a number of different hydropower technologies, but at a fundamental level, all of them produce electricity using the force of moving water, be it from waves, tides, river flows or impounded reservoirs.
How can hydropower grow sustainably in the future, given environmental issues raised around some older, large dams?
In the future the hydropower industry will focus on projects that maximize the benefits of our existing infrastructure, such as adding new, more efficient generating equipment to existing facilities and adding electricity generating capacity to dams that have none today.
What is hydropower's impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
The “fuel” powering hydroelectric facilities is clean, renewable, zero-emission water.