Here comes a rather unusual day trip idea. Something you may never have thought of visiting before coming to Iceland. One of the things Iceland is also famous for is its geothermal energy, which is due to its special geological location and the volcanoes everywhere.
So if the weather is not inviting enough to spend the time outside or if you just want to visit something that you cannot find in most other countries, why not visit a geothermal power plant just a 20 min drive outside of Reykjavík?
[pullquote]Why not visit a geothermal power plant just a 20 min drive outside of Reykjavík?[/pullquote]Geothermal energy provides more than 26% of Iceland’s energy. Beside the production of electricity, it is especially used for heating and hot water requirements for approximately 87% of the buildings in Iceland. In wintertime they even heat up pavements in the city centers of Reykjavík and Akureyri, so that the snow wont stay and you can safely walk around.
The process of how they generate energy and hot water is quite fascinating. And to learn more about it, the Hellisheiði Geothermal Plant, the largest one in Iceland (and among the largest in the world) has a pretty nice multimedia exhibition that shows you how its done.
Hellisheiði Geothermal Plant
The plant is owned by Orkuveita Reykjavíkur (OR) (Reykjavík Energy), which is a public company, providing electricity and geothermal energy to about 67% of the Icelandic population. They have experience of running geothermal heating since the 1940s.
The history of the Hellisheiði Plant dates back to 2001 and 2002, when exploratory drillings were made in the Hengill area. These drillings gave proof of great geothermal activity that is connected with 3 volcanic systems found in Hengill,which is one of the most extensive geothermal areas in Iceland. At least three volcanic eruptions have occurred in the area in the last 11,000 years, the most recent being 2,000 years ago. So the information of those drillings provided the grounds for the power plant, which took up its work in 2006.
How to get there?
Follow the N1 south from Reykjavík to Hveragerdi. About 10 km before Hveragerdi you will see a lot of steam going up into the air on your left hand side. (You will also smell the sulfur in the air…) Also a road sign will point you towards the plant, which you find just a few hundred meters off the main road.
The power plant will also be on the N1 part that is on your way going or coming from the Golden Circle. So if you have some spare time left or it actually rains, why not include this bit of information on your day tour?
Geothermal Energy Exhibition
A geothermal energy exhibition is on display at the visitor center of the Hellisheiði Plant. This multimedia exhibition will give you great insight into how geothermal energy is harnessed in a sustainable manner in Iceland and how it is a showcase for the rest of the world.
We had a guided tour in English and our guide gave us great first hand information and didn’t get tired of answering all the questions we didn’t know we had.
The guided tour is accompanied by one of the best multimedia shows I have come across until now. The whole cycle of energy and hot water production is explained in great detail on a big screen. Although it is detailed it is also explained in such a smart and simple entertaining manner that it should be comprehensible for everyone.
They even have an earthquake simulation there and additional multimedia information about the whole Hengill area and its surroundings. You’ll find loads of stories, concerning flora and fauna, how life was a hundred years ago, as well as sagas and more entertaining stuff.
Every day from 09:00-17:00
700 ISK per person
under 18 free (not in organized groups)
Special rates for groups (10 persons or more)
For rates outside normal opening hours and advance booking for groups, contact email@example.com