Located on Hengill volcano in the South of Iceland, Hellisheidarvirkjun (or Hellisheidi) heat and power plant (CHP) constitutes the largest power station of Iceland and the second largest geothermal power station in the world. The geothermal power plant was created to provide electricity to the city of Reykjavik as there is an increasing demand. Only 11 km separate the Hellisheidarvirkjun geothermal plant from Nesjavellir which is the second largest geothermal power in Iceland
Construction of the plant
In 2006, the two high pressure 45 Megawatts turbines of the power station were started up and the station began its production of electricity. One year later, an additional low pressure turbine of 33 Megawatts was added to the geothermal power station.
In 2008, the power plant expanded with the addition of two extra turbines of 45 Megawatts to the other 3 turbines already functioning. It is at that moment that the electricity production was combined with steam from Stora-Skardsmyrarfjall Mountain, allowing the power station to produce up to 213 Megawatts of electricity.
In 2010, the hot water production started when three thermal power plants were put online, reaching a production of 133 Megawatts. At the end of the year 2011, two high pressure 45 Megawatts turbine were added to Hellisheidarvirkjun power station, this addition being the final stage of the expansion of the power plant.
Today, the geothermal power plant of Hellisheidarvirkjun produces about 303 Megawatts of electricity and up to 400 Megawatts of thermal energy, ranking Hellisheidarvirkjun geothermal plant as the largest geothermal power station in the world, in terms of installed capacity.
The geothermal power plant uses 500 kg/s of 180°C geothermal steam for the electrical production. The energy is extracted from 30 wells of 2000-3000 meters deep, and is led through steam and mist separators before entering the turbines.
The high pressure steam gathering system operates at 9 bar pressure, whereas the low pressure steam extracted from the steam separators is generated at a pressure of 2 bar.
The electrical system of each unit is composed of a 50 MVA generator, a 50 MVA step-up transformer to 220 kV, an 11/11 kV transformer for connection to the 11 kV station service system and 11/0.4 kV transformers.
Hengill volcano area
Hengill is a volcano made from palagonite tuff and its highest point is around 800 meters above sea level. Hengill geothermal area is located in the middle of the western volcanic zone, on the plate boundary between North America and European plates. The area is one of the most powerful geothermal areas in the world with several thousand of hot springs at the surface and a giant magma chamber lying underground. Hengill volcano is still active, although its last eruption occurred about 2 000 years ago.
The area covers about 112 km2 and constitutes one of the most extensive geothermal areas in Iceland.
The Hellisheidi Power Plant´s Visitors Center displays a geothermal energy exhibition. It explains how geothermal energy is used in a sustainable manner in Iceland and it shows that this geothermal station is a showcase for the rest of the world.
During this exhibition, experienced guides will provide informative presentations along with multimedia shows about sustainable green energy as a global energy source.
The Hellisheidi Power Plant Visitors Center is open every day from 09:00-17:00.
If you'd like to book a minibus tour that takes you to the Hellisheidi Geothermal Plant, as well as other stunning locations, have a look at Green Iceland - Renewable Energy Tour