The expansion of the hydropower system on Eysturoy initiated in the beginning of the 1980s has been completed. The last tunnel has been successfully drilled and Eiði power plant updated.
Some 35 years after the work was initiated, 2013 marked the year when the hydropower expansion project on Eysturoy was completed. This has been an enduring project. The first time the project was proposed was at a meeting of SEV’s Representative Committee on 21 March 1979. Oil had become a very expensive energy source and the race was on to capture more green energy. Eventually, the project would be named Eiði 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Eiði 1 and 3 was comprised of tunnels located in the northern part of Eysturoy – both on the eastern and western side. Eiði 2 was a tunnel stretching from Ljósá all the way south to Selatrað; this tunnel was completed in 2013.
Eiði 4 encompassed an area from Vesturdalsá between Fjarða and south towards Skála. However, a few years back the management of SEV closed this project, as it was deemed too expensive, compared to the amount of water that could be harvested.
Now, upon the completion of the Eiði 2 project, the expansion initiated 35 years ago is now finished.
The dam at Eiðisvatn and the build-out of the Eiði power plant were other aspects of this long-lasting project. The Eiðisvatn dam collects water from the Eiði 1, 2, and 3 tunnels, which in turn capture water from multiple sources.
From the dam at Eiðisvatn, the water runs down the penstocks into the turbines at the Eiði power plant, which was inaugurated on 28 April 1987 and expanded and updated in 2013.
Originally, there were two turbines at the Eiði power plant. Now a third turbine has been added and the older turbines have been completely refurbished and upgraded to work even more efficiently. The combined capacity of the three turbines is 21.7 MW; it is estimated that they can produce up to 55 GWh annually.
A long process
The hydropower expansion on Eysturoy received its share of opposition prior to the work being initiated in 1984. Early on, SEV and the government authorities were unable to reach an agreement. Many options were explored, including what impact hydropower expansion would have on Eysturoy.
Some suggested a better solution would be to expand into the “Heights”, as the area was called. This solution called for the placing of the tunnels and a smaller dam higher up in the mountains so that the height of the waterfall to the turbines would be greater. SEV, on the other hand, continued to promote its initial plan to build a dam at Eiðisvatn that would hold a much greater reserve of water, even though the waterfall would be less.
The plan was halted several times for political reasons. The economic crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s also caused the work to come to a halt.
The total cost for the hydropower expansion on Eysturoy over the last 35 years amounts to around DKK 1 billion. Today, the power plant at Eiði and the hydropower energy system on Eysturoy is a major part of SEV’s renewable energy programme, helping to lead the company into a greener future for all.