Necessity is the Mother of Invention: The Dawn of Domestic Geothermal Turbine Repairs in Iceland

Reynir Smari Atlason, Almar Gunnarsson, Runar Unnthorsson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Even though the Icelandic public relies greatly on geothermal power, to date, intensive maintenance procedures on the geothermal turbines have been conducted by foreign contractors. Such repairs are very time consuming, risky, expensive and leak capital out of the country. This has been discussed greatly within the industry and plans have been made on how the power companies, along with domestic machine shops can address this problem. However, in spring 2013 a turbine failure was observed in a routine quadrennial check at the Nesjavellir geothermal power plant. Corrosion products where found on the last set of the labyrinth packing and the rotor had been worn down approximately 8 mm radius. The backup rotor was also in a non-operational state. The unexpected downtime in power production had to be minimized in order to fulfill contracts. Because of time constraints, foreign service companies were not considered to be feasible due to their waiting queues and the time required for shipping overseas. This scenario initiated collaboration between the power company and domestic machine shops to manufacture spare parts and conduct the overall repair on site. This was due to several reasons such as; currency exchange rate, machines and know-how at the machine shops had improved over the last decade and the fact that the power company was ready to pay for the development cost. This paper presents the problem, how it was solved collaboratively domestically in only a fraction of time that conventional procedures would have taken. The paper investigates the causes of the turbine failure and provides a description the current state of turbine repair facilities in Iceland.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationASME 2014 Power conference
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers
Publication date2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Maintenance
  • Inventions
  • Geothermal engineering
  • Turbines


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  • 2014 ASME Power conference

    Reynir Smari Atlason (Participant)


    Activity: Attending an eventConference organisation or participation

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