Geothermal Energy: Icelands Solution to Sustainable Energy
By 2030, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs aims to substantially increase renewable energy as a share of the total global energy usage, following goal 7.2.
Iceland is a unique case as they were able to achieve this goal by running almost entirely on renewable energy sources. With 9 out of 10 households directly heated using geothermal energy, Iceland’s journey from fossil fuels to renewable solutions should be considered an inspiration to other countries to battle the prominent issue of climate change.
Iceland’s success in this matter can be attributed to its geological location. It is also called the "land of fire and ice", it is located on the right on the border of the Eurasian and North- American tectonic plates. These Tectonic plates move apart around a rate 0f 1-2 cm per year, resulting in excess lava constructing volcanoes and creating the hot spot below the country. This has resulted in the country's abundance of hot springs and over 200 volcanoes, with one of the world's most active volcanoes.
These conditions can then power geothermal energy by using the heat from geysers and hot water sources below the earth’s crust to create vapour, which then spins a turbine, generating electricity. In Iceland, the hot water sources are also used directly to heat houses and streets, formerly known as hydrothermal energy, posing even a solution for snow shovelling.
Another great energy source in Iceland is created through the seasonal melting of glaciers into glacial rivers. The movement of these rivers then spins a turbine, which converts kinetic energy into electricity, providing the country with even more renewable energy.
But Iceland didn’t just stop there. The Iceland Deep Drilling Project, also known as the IDDP, is a consortium of the leading three firms responsible for energy production in Iceland. Collectively, they are currently further working on drilling further into the earth’s surface to investigate energy synthesis at even hotter temperatures and how Iceland could further optimise their energy production, including how geothermal energy could be implemented on a more global scale.
Now, we are still posed with the question of how this could set an example for the rest of the world, as Iceland’s solutions apply to volcanic conditions, which not every country is able to access. Although there isn’t one universal solution to a larger share of renewable energy globally, Iceland has been able to use its given resources to transition from fossil fuels to green energy. With the right approach and strong leadership, this could be done in many other countries. Iceland has also proven that a country does not need to be developed and wealthy to make this transition to greener energy, considering it was a developing country up to the 1970s.
The UN mentions some critical takeaways from this transitioning process in Iceland include collaborating between firms and the government, planning long-term solutions, showcasing success, and empowering the public and locals. Other countries should take this as an inspiration to work towards creating a more sustainable energy system aiding climate change and reaching the UN's sustainability goal by 2030.
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