The ‘Little’ Icelandic Example: Pursuing a Clean-Energy Agenda

How can a small nation of just 330,000 people, located in the middle of the North Atlantic, be fully self-sufficient when it comes to energy for house heating? And not just independent — but with 99% of it’s energy production renewable.

Iceland is a volcanic island where volcanic eruptions occur on average about every four years. Our country is rich in glaciers and glacier rivers, which have, for more than 50 years, been harnessed for clean, sustainable electricity production. Iceland is also rich in geothermal energy, which has for decades been utilized for house heating, as well as for electricity production. Utilizing these two resources provides for the impressive statistic outlined here above.

Geothermal energy is a domestic renewable-energy source and as such plays an important role in our energy security by reducing the need for us to import non-renewable energy.

There is a long history of geothermal utilization in Iceland and this is one of the cornerstones of our energy sector. The use of geothermal energy for house heating in Reykjavik dates back to 1930, but the main impetus came in 1973 when the oil crises struck and oil prices increased by 70%. At that time, about half of all houses in Iceland were heated with fossil fuel, but concentrated efforts led to Iceland being transformed into a geothermal clean-energy economy within two decades. Nine out of 10 houses today are heated directly with geothermal heat, through district-heating systems, and the remaining 10% with renewable electricity.

The social and economic benefits of this development have been substantial. The macro-economic benefits of the geothermal district-heating system amounts to around 7% of our annual GDP today. In any comparison a high share.

But the geothermal message that we want to bring to the world is not only about space heating —> Read More