Section
Segment

The site for the proposed Búrfell Wind Farm is characterised by sand eroded lava. The area is relatively flat, homogenous and considered to be particularly suitable for the utilisation of wind energy. The landscape is open and vast with mountainous views in most directions. However, the mountain range does impair the view to the northeast and southwest of the site. Nearby and far-off surroundings show clear evidence of disturbance from current energy generation in the area.

Section
Segment

Visual impact

Maps are a key tool in assessing the visual impact of the wind farm. By marking the blades at their highest position on the maps, the visibility factors of the wind turbines is determined. Vegetation and meteorological conditions are not considered, although these factors can have an extensive impact on visibility. The maps do not give any information on the nature of visibility.

The EIA is based on wind turbines with a mast height of 149 m, blades at the highest position and a generation capacity of 3.2 MW. A 200 MW wind farm would require 63 wind turbines. The greatest distribution of equally spaced turbines constructed up to the periphery of the site is assumed when analysing the maximum impact of the wind farm.

The visual impact of wind turbines reaching various heights is also assessed; a visibility analysis was conducted on wind turbines at heights of 129 m, 139 m, 149 m, 159 m, and 169 m. The results show that visibility is only reduced by 0.7% for every 10 m decrease in turbine height in the impacted areas.

Section
Segment

Number of visible wind turbines

Overview map

The shaded area on the map shows the number of visible wind turbines within the area. You can click on the map to travel between rest areas.

Rest areas
Power stations
Section
Segment

Impact on visual appearance (visual impact)

The visual impact of wind turbines are directly negative but also reversible, as wind turbines can be dismantled after they are decommissioned. During their lifecycle, wind turbines are visually prominent from a distance up to 5 km; however, site characteristics can influence this rule. The Búrfell Wind Farm will be prominent from a distance of 5-10 km in selected areas, but the site will go completely unseen from other locations at that distance. In many areas, the wind farm will not be visible at a distance greater than 10 km. Regardless of which of the three proposals is selected, the wind turbines will be visible from the hills and mountains that overlook the wind farm and fall within the 5-10 km range.

Appendix 1 shows the criteria used to create the visibility maps, which subsequently influences the discussion regarding the matter. The visibility maps are calculated for a viewer's eye height, and the theoretical visibility of wind turbines (with blades at their highest position) is marked on the map. This method shows how the landscape affects visibility, as hills and other site irregularities can reduce the visual impact.

Visibility is high in the northeast direction of the wind farm towards Landsvirkjun’s current power generation operation in the Þjórsá-Tungnaá area. Visibility is also high in the southwest direction, but the number of visible wind turbines is significantly lower in comparison to the northeast direction. Wind turbines can barely be seen from the southeast of the wind farm site towards Landmannalaugar and neighbouring spots, which holds true for all three proposals. However, all three proposals result in the high visibility of wind turbines from the area surrounding the north end of the Hekla Volcano.

Overall results according to distance and visibility maps:

Distance 0 - 5 km

Wind turbines are prominent features of the landscape. Some areas are ‘sheltered,’ and the wind turbines cannot be seen there. Overall, the wind turbines have a significantly negative impact.

Distance 5 – 10 km

Wind turbines are prominent in areas where they are visible, but the effects at this distance become increasingly dependent on weather and light conditions in addition to the time of year. More than 40 wind turbines can be seen from rather large areas. The wind turbines will have a considerably negative impact in areas where they are visible.

Distance 10 – 25 km

The wind turbines can be seen from a few hilly and mountainous areas to the east of the Þjórsá River. Landsvirkjun’s power station areas, including the Búðarháls, Hraunaeyjafoss, Sigalda and Vatnsfell Hydropower Stations, can also see some of the turbine. Visibility is completely dependent on weather and light conditions. At this distance, visibility is high from the area by the Hekla Volcano. This area will experience a somewhat negative impact.

Negligible impact> 25 km

Any distance greater than 25 km from the wind turbines experiences insignificant visual impacts, despite the fact that wind turbines can be seen from a far distance in favourable weather conditions. Visibility is so low, even at a distance of 20 – 25 km, that the wind turbines are no longer dominating the landscape. Visibility at this distance is completely dependent on weather and light conditions. 

Section
Segment

Travel routes

Travel routes (pathways, bicycle trails and riding trails) to the west and north of Búrfell are partly within an area where high voltage transmission lines for a power station in the area already exist. However, travel routes to the east of Búrfell mostly fall outside of this belt of structures. Thus, the results indicate that the visual impact on travel routes within a 5 km distance from the wind farm, for all proposals, will be extensive and have a significantly negative impact. This includes travel routes into Áfangagil and towards the Hekla and Dómadalsleið areas. The wind farm rapidly disappears from sight on the route to Dómadalsleið but remains obvious up to the roots of the Hekla Volcano. The wind farm will be less visible from other routes.

Section
Segment

Rest areas

Regardless of the selected proposal, the wind farm´s visual impacts will be felt significantly from Áfangagil, Hólaskóg and Stöng, among additional rest areas in the proximity.  However, other rest areas will not feel visual impacts to the extent of the aforementioned location and have been given a lower visibility rating. A number of locations within a 20 km radius, including the Hallarmúli cabin, Helgaskáli cabin and the area by the Landmannahellir caves, are outside the area where the wind farm will be visible.

 

Section
Section
Segment

Mitigation measures and monitoring

Wind turbines are, by nature, large structures with few mitigation measures available to limit visual impact. Although the efficiency of energy generation is typically held with highest importance when deciding on a turbine arrangement, different options for the layout of a wind farm can offer visual balance. A visual balance is best achieved when the turbines are arranged in a simple manner. Smaller numbers of wind turbines are generally arranged in a straight line, whereas wind farms with a larger number of turbines are often arranged with a grid that specifies the minimum distance allowed between turbines. The grid ensures that no wind turbine affects the energy generation of another. Additionally, wind turbines can be arranged in accordance with contour lines, ecosystems, visual impacts and other factors. The layout of the Búrfell Wind Farm is based on the discussed guidelines, and the turbines will come in a sky grey colour with surface gloss levels kept to a minimum. These decisions on wind farm aesthetics help in harmonising the wind turbines with the landscape and skyline, whatever the time of year.

Other mitigation measures include specific requirements, which have been outlined by Landsvirkjun, for contractors and other construction employees working on behalf of the Company. These include any environmental matters connected to this work. The requirements detail guidelines for onsite behaviour and the execution of completing work during and after the construction period.

Proposal 1 and 3 offer the option to relocate the Landvegur Road (26) to an area to the south of the wind farm. This would prevent the road leading to the Hekla Volcano from experiencing the visual impacts of the wind farm.

Section
Segment

Búrfellslundur Wind Farm EIA report

The Búrfellslundur Wind Farm EIA report can be accessed here.
Further discussion on visual appearance is in chapter 7.1

EIA report

186 MB PDF

Visual impact

328,3 MB PDF