Iceland’s Renewable Resources
Image 1: Iceland's Landscape
Iceland launched their sixth geothermal plant in 2010, and since 2012, Iceland’s electricity is generated by 100% renewable energy. Located on the Mid-Atlanta ridge, the country is able to tap into the abundant heat of the earth’s mantle. The country generates 70% of its energy solely through geothermal power, 20% is generated by hydropower, and the other 10% is non-renewable sources such as oil and coal (Loftsdottir Agusta 2015).
Driving across the country, it is easy to spot some of these power plants. For example, there is a 60 Megawatt (MW) geothermal power plant (see Image 2) located close to the Krafla Volcano and Myvatn lake, a popular tourist destination. As one drives to this region along Route 1, the smell of sulfur fills the air and steam dominates the landscape shadowing the ice-capped mountains.
Hellisheiði is by far the most interesting geothermal power plant in Iceland. This power plant produces electricity and district hot water for the city of Reykjavik. During winter months, commercial buildings and residential dwellings (apartments and single family homes) use hot water radiators for space heating (Kit 2016). The existing space conditioning infrastructure within buildings and homes made the transition to district hot water seamless and effortless in Reykjavik.
Nevertheless, the road to 100% renewable energy (for all industries) is still overshadowed by the use of imported oil by Iceland’s fishing and transportation industry. Even though oil makes up approximately 10% of the country’s energy consumption (Loftsdottir Agusta 2015), Iceland is working to change this through innovative alternatives such as hydrogen fuel cells (Vimal 2008).
Kit, B. (2016). "Sustainable Energy: Inside Iceland's Geothermal Power Plant." from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/29/sustainable-energy-iceland-geothermal-plant.
Loftsdottir Agusta, G. B., Ketilsson Jonas, Georgsdottir Linda, Jonsdottir Ran, Hjaltason Sigurdur Elias, Gudmundsdottir Maria, Haukdal og Jón Ragnar Guðmundsson Jón Ásgeir (2015). "Energy Statistics in Iceland." Orkustofnu.
Vimal, V. (2008). "Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in Marine Transport." from https://www.ika.rwth-aachen.de/r2h/index.php/Hydrogen_and_Fuel_Cells_in_Marine_Transport.html#References.