The Earth’s Fire in Iceland

no coal fireWe came into Iceland yesterday morning and I saw this poster at the airport.  I thought it was great.  Today, after visiting Þingvellir National Park, we were driving back and came across this geothermal power station.  It’s nestled just below and off to the right from where I took this picture of the biggest lake in Iceland, Lake Þingvallavatn.

Lake PingvellirGeothermal power comes from the earth’s heat.  Because Iceland sits dead in the middle of one of the earth’s major fault lines, the Mid-Atlantic ridge, it is a volcanic hot spot.  About half of Iceland’s primary energy comes from geothermal:  40% of the exploited geothermal resource goes to electric power production and 45% to space heating, with the rest going to things like fish farms and greenhouses.  (See this chart from the National Energy Authority.  For more, go here.)  In fact, Iceland has so much geothermal potential that they could export it and/or attract energy-intensive industry here to use it directly.  It’s pretty much win-win.  See the state of play as reported by Renewable Energy World here.

You don’t have to be on such a beautiful island on our beautiful planet, though, to profit from geothermal power.  You can get a huge power boost from using hot rock.  Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) could be one more big slice of the pie in clean energy future.

See also this video about Iceland’s geothermal resource.


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