You See a Waterfall, I See Potential Energy!

28 09 2012

This past weekend I got to visit the Mjolkarvirkjun Power Plant which supplies most of the energy to the region. It only requires one operator and he was happy to show us around.

I have the power to cut power to 7000 people! Hahaha! The biggest threat to energy security is actually iced power lines. This is common and towns rely on costly diesel generators until power is restored.

The Westfjords have very little natural hot water and little geothermal potential. The energy at this plant is therefore generated by harnessing the power of falling water. The lake is mainly fed by springs elements but also get some water from the melting snow. With receding glaciers the lake has declined significantly in recent decades. The plant uses lake water from the highlands nearly 500 feet above the plant, then funnels the water down the pipes and into the powerhouse at the bottom. The average flow of water to the electrical power turbines is about 2.3 cubic meters per second. The two turbine generators produce 11 megawatts per year!

Okay so whats the problem with that? After all the only outflow is water and there are no carbon emissions.

The dry skeleton of a past waterfall is visible on the right. The water that once cascaded down into the pools has been trapped and squeezed into the pipe which provides the water pressure to turn two massive turbines.

Why care about the destruction of THAT waterfall, when you have THIS one right down the road…

Towering 100m, the Dynjandi waterfall is one of the most spectacular in Iceland. Meaning thunderous, it can be seen and heard across the fjord. Dynjandi is actually a series of 7 smaller waterfalls, each more prodigious than the last, culminating in the trapezoidal falls pictured here.




One response

17 10 2012

this is simply breath-taking. I’m so happy for you!

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