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Ensuring a stable power supply to Icelands largest aluminium smelter



Company

Landsnet, Iceland's Transmission System Operator (TSO), is a cornerstone of the nation's infrastructure, holding the critical responsibility for managing and operating the electrical grid across Iceland’s challenging terrain. With a network stretching more than 3,330 kilometers, Landsnet is tasked with the pivotal role of transmitting power from the country's rich sources of renewable energy to its population and industries.


Challenge

The transmission lines from the 690MW Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Plant—Europe's largest— to the Alcoa smelter are critical conduits, traversing mountainous terrains and facing intense snowstorms annually. Landsnet was tasked with minimizing the operational risk along these lines, where the stakes are high: a prolonged power outage could lead to the solidification of aluminum pots, potentially halting smelter operations for over a year, with devastating economic impacts.


In December 2019, a severe storm led to catastrophic ice accumulation on these lines, causing a mast collapse and a significant power outage. The failure of one line pressured the entire system, heightening the risk of a total power failure to the smelter.


Solution

In response to this critical challenge, Landsnet collaborated with Laki Power to enhance monitoring and ensure the resilience of this vital infrastructure. Two Laki Power monitoring stations were swiftly deployed in 2019; one at Hallormsstaðarháls where the previous failure occurred, and another in Áreyjardalur. These installations took less than 15 minutes each—a stark contrast to the previous system which necessitated burying 5.6 km of power cables.

The Laki Power stations are designed to monitor galloping and icing conditions, utilizing state-of-the-art cameras and sensors to deliver real-time data and analytics without the need for external power sources, reducing the dependency on costly and labor-intensive infrastructures.


Results

The Laki Power monitoring stations have withstood multiple winters and snowstorms since their installation in 2019, delivering reliable and uninterrupted surveillance of the power lines. This enhanced monitoring capability has allowed Landsnet to monitor directly, in real-time, what is happening on the conductors and if there is need for crew deployment for de-icing or maintenance tasks. This ensures a more reliable power supply to the aluminum smelter, significantly reducing the risk associated with severe weather conditions.

By incorporating Laki Power's innovative technology, Landsnet has effectively fortified its monitoring processes, ensuring the safety and reliability of the electrical supply to one of Iceland's largest industrial facilities and supporting the stability of the region's economy.


“The Laki Power monitoring stations gave us reliable monitoring capabilities in critical locations without the need for huge investments in external power sources.”


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