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Operation and Maintenance in Icelandic Geothermal Power Plants: Structure and Hierarchy

[+] Author Affiliations
Reynir Smari Atlason, Runar Unnthorsson

University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland

Paper No. POWER2013-98207, pp. V001T05A007; 6 pages
  • ASME 2013 Power Conference
  • Volume 1: Fuels and Combustion, Material Handling, Emissions; Steam Generators; Heat Exchangers and Cooling Systems; Turbines, Generators and Auxiliaries; Plant Operations and Maintenance
  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA, July 29–August 1, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: Power Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5605-5
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


The Icelandic geothermal industry can be traced back to 1908 and has developed an extensive knowledge from that time. Currently, seven geothermal power plants are operating on the island. The plants are operated and maintained efficiently by relatively few engineers. The power plants generally prefer marine engineers who have worked as chief engineers on fishing vessels. Marine engineers are preferred in the Icelandic geothermal sector because of their education and mentality learned while working on the sea. Teamwork, resourcefulness, proactive thinking and the will to assist with jobs beyond job description are among the qualities believed to be required.

This study was carried out in cooperation with three power companies who own and operate all the geothermal power plants in Iceland. The purpose was to study the geothermal power plants and their environment in order to identify the key factors for the effective operation and maintenance with few engineers. The results include a summary and an analysis of the structure and hierarchy and an analysis of the business environment. Lastly, the results from a comparison of work behavior between employees at geothermal plants, fishing vessels and from other sectors are presented. Results were not as expected; employees at the geothermal plant were less considered to their peers, more outspoken and seem to show less civic virtue to their companies.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME



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