Energy questions for those in power

11.05.2022 - 13:07
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Rúnar Snær Reynisson - ruv.is
There are many different issues on voters’ minds leading up to the 14th May local elections, and the issues vary by municipality. RÚV English will investigate a few different issues, in a few different municipalities.

Today, we look at Múlaþing, where the candidates standing do not agree on what should happen with regard to electricity generation. There are at least two hydro power projects on the drawing board that would be located in Múlaþing. Hamarsvirkjun is classified as “wait”—meaning a power station may be build one day, but not imminently—while Geitdalsárvirkjun is further advanced: both the municipality and the state have signed contracts with Arctic Hydro for water rights there. 

Neither Vinstri grænir (the Left Greens) nor Austurlistinn (the East List) want a power station at Geitdalsá, while the other three party lists (Framskóknarflokkurinn (the Progressive Party), Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn (the Independence Party), and Miðflokkurinn (the Centre Party) are all more positive to the idea. 

Múlaþing was created in 2020 with the merger of Borgarfjarðarhreppur, Djúpavogshreppur, Fljótsdalshérað, and Seyðisfjarðarkaupstaður. It is Iceland’s largest municipality, taking up over ten percent of the country’s land area. With just over 5,000 residents, it is the country’s 11th most populous municipality. 

Move faster 

Þröstur Jónsson (Miðflokkurinn) says hydro power is better than wind power, as wind farms have more environmental impacts in their operation and construction. He calls on the state to speed up implementation of the national energy development framework. “Because we have here one hydro dam option that I believe to be very promising, and therefore I want it to go faster and for us to know as soon as possible whether we get to dam it or not.” 

Offshore wind 

Jónína Brynjólfsdóttir (Framsóknarflokkurinn) says her party realises there is a need for more power and that it therefore supports Geitdalsárvirkjun. With regard to wind power, the next stage is to discuss which areas would potentially be suitable. “I would personally want to have wind turbines out at sea. That would maybe be most convenient, but we are also in favour of hydro, though we can’t let it get out of hand and need to approach it prudently.” 

Strong economy needs power 

Berglind Harpa Svavarsdóttir (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn) says her party is also in favour of Geitdalsárvirkjun, as electricity is needed for a strong economy. “So we are in favour of it. The hydro plants, and also we should look at wind power. There are great opportunities. But of course, with wind power, we can’t just roll it out anywhere and everywhere. The areas that could work are being set out.” 

Good location for wind needed 

Hildur Þórisdóttir (Austurlistinn) says each individual proposal needs to be approached respectfully and prudently. “On wind energy, we have approved the erection of three wind turbines in an already-degraded area and I think it is really important they are not being set up just wherever and that we protect untouched areas.” A dedicated wind energy Policy is needed, including mapping out which areas are suitable. Austurlistinn does not support the Geitdalsárvirkjun dam. 

Damming the east not a priority 

Helgi Hlynur Ásgrímsson (Vinstri grænir) says his part is against further exploitation of Hraunasvæði for power generation, which would rule out both proposed hydro developments. “29 percent of Iceland’s energy comes from the east and one percent from the Westfjords. It cannot be a priority for us to dam everything that moves or flows. That’s an approach I don’t subscribe to.  

At the Múlaþing candidates’ debate, Vinstri grænir was the only party to take a stand against fish farming. 

For more information on the local elections this May, see the Multicultural Information Centre’s dedicated election page, here. Information from the government is here. And you can find out whether, and where, you can vote by entering your kennitala here. RÚV English will compile all Election 2022 news on this page

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Alexander Elliott
Fréttastofa RÚV