Hellisheidi Geothermal Energy Systems of Iceland

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February 20th 2011
Published: February 20th 2011
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Iceland was on my “Bucket List” up until October of 2010 when Mark and I, decided to make the journey. The main aim was to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and bath in the Blue Lagoon. Since we were meeting some Travbuddy friends in Reykjavik, we decided to join them on the Golden Circle Tour. The tour includes a total of 5 stops including 2 geothermal power plants. Hellisheidi Geothermal Power plant was our last stop on the Golden Circle Tour. Located in South West Iceland, the power plant is a combined heat and power generator. It sits on one of the largest wet geothermal systems also known as high-enthalpy in Iceland. The purpose of the plant is to meet the increasing demand for electricity and hot water for space heating for the Icelandic people. It is the second largest geothermal plant in the world. This is particularly an interesting stop as I was not expecting what followed. Approaching the plant from the main highway, you are met with the strong and stomach turning smell of sulfur. The plant itself is huge with an interesting architectural facade for the front entrance. I thought the design was peculiar for a power plant, nonetheless, we entered the building and we were asked to sit on the stairs. It seemed to me the stairs were designed particularly to mimic a theater seating purposed for the kind of briefing we got. The information was good, but the lady presenting it had such a strong accent that I missed much of what she was saying even though her English was pretty polished.

After the power point presentation, we went upstairs to the second floor from where we could see the more mechanical part of the plant. On this floor also was an earthquake simulator with simulations of the 3 major earthquakes that hit Iceland in the last 10 years. Across from the simulator is an information seating area with a wall mounted plasma screen on which detailed information on how the earthquakes, Geysirs and Glaciers in Iceland work/ were formed. This is a must see as it captures everything that you have seen during the past 7 hours of touring the Golden Circle. The short video explains how the geothermal energy is tapped and processed for use. It also explains how they proof their production against earth quakes of great magnitudes.

This portion of the all day tour was quite fascinating. Granted, not everyone might find this interesting, but if you have managed to go through the Geysir, Gullfoss, Kerid and made it past the Green houses, you will find it worth while to visit Hellisheidi. This tour is part and parcel of the Golden Circle tour. We paid 55 Euros for the whole tour, it is hard to tell what it would cost as a standalone. We did meet a few people who had driven themselves to the plant. Highly recommended.

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