Karahnjukar (Kárahnjúkar) Dam

Karahnjukar (Kárahnjúkar) Dam

Standing 193m in height, the controversial Kárahnjúkar Dam and its power station were completed in 2009, producing 690 MW of electricity for the Alcoa aluminium smelter in Reyðarfjörður.

The project harnesses the Jökulsá á Dal and Jökulsá í Fljótsdal rivers by creating three reservoirs with five concrete-face rock-filled embankment dams; three on the first river and two on the second.  At 180m in height, the Kárahnjúkar dam is the largest in Iceland and Europe.

After driving the turbines of the Fljótsdalur Power Station, the water is returned to the river and flows to sea through Lagarfljót, a natural lake.  

The project was controversial on many levels, not least because the dams and intake lagoons are sited in the uninhabited highlands in a pristine and sensitive area that had hitherto been rather inaccessible. Moreover, 70% of the workforce involved in the construction phase were foreigners. 

A paved road, the 910 goes all the way up to the dam, offering a fine view over the mountain Snæfell. The route is only accessible in summer.