“Urgency” is the key theme proposed by Iceland during the Climate Action Summit promoted by the UN on the occasion of the 74th General Assembly in New York. “We are facing a global emergency”, said the Prime Minister of the Scandinavian country, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, during the summit.
“We must act now to save the future. If we do not start reducing global emissions soon, we may reach a point of no return.”
Iceland hitting 100% renewable power
Iceland immediately demonstrated its commitment to this cause by declaring its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040.
This will be possible by exploiting the local renewable energies, among which geothermal energy stands out.
“Iceland‘s electricity and heating now come 100% from renewable sources,” said Jakobsdóttir, “Was it hard work? Yes, it was. Did it cost money? Obviously. But the transition to clean energy was perhaps our best investment, both in terms of economy and quality of life. And I believe that the investments we are making now to implement the transition in our transport system will be vital to combat the climate crisis, but also a great investment for our society and our economy.”
Moreover, the data provided by the Icelandic National Energy Authority, Orkustofnun, speak for themselves: already five years ago about 85% of primary energy consumption in Iceland was met by local renewable resources, 66% of which from geothermal sources. Geothermal power stations currently generate 25% of the country‘s electricity production. 9/10 of the Icelandic population heats its buildings thanks to the heat of the earth, which is also used profitably for greenhouse and fish farming, but also in industry and tourism. In this regard, National Geographic has already in 2012 included the Icelandic spa Blue Lagoon among the 25 “Wonders of the world”.
The Advantages of Geothermal Energy
But while geothermal energy in Iceland has always been a renewable local resource, its growing use is the result of the recent history of a country that has focused strongly on the development of clean energy. “I come from a country that for centuries was among the poorest in Europe, but in the last 60 years has been able to carry on a process of development for economic prosperity and social welfare,” said Ólafur Grímsson, president of Iceland from 1996 to 2016, at the Global Alliance for Geothermal Energy meeting in Florence two years ago. “In Iceland, those responsible for economic development realise that geothermal energy makes it possible to diversify their economies by offering important business opportunities for the new generations. Moreover, geothermal energy has unique characteristics of continuity, offering a stability in the supply of energy that no other renewable source can give in an economically advantageous way. We didn’t just transform Iceland to meet our climate targets, we changed it because geothermal energy was and is the pillar of our economic success.