Geothermal Energy in Iceland

Written by Nicole Barker, ESLLC 2016-2017

Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source that can be found almost anywhere. The amount of heat within 33,000 feet of Earth’s surface holds 50,000 times more energy than all the natural gas and oil resources in the world. Areas of the world where there is a lot of geologic activity, like seismic waves (earthquakes) or plate tectonics, have a lot of potential for the most energy yield. This is what makes Iceland perfect for it!

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Iceland is located on the divergent plate boundary between the Eurasian and North American plates which means it is situated right over the mid-Atlantic ridge. It also lies above the Iceland plume which is a hotspot. Some of the Icelandic landscape includes rift valleys, geysers, hot springs, rhyolite mountains, volcanoes, columnar basalt formations, lava fields, and lunar-like craters. Because of the incredible geology of Iceland, magma is brought closer to the surface of Earth making geothermal energy a huge source.

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In 2014, 85% of Iceland’s primary energy use came from indigenous renewable resources. Today, 66% of Iceland’s primary energy comes from geothermal. 9 out of 10 houses are heated using it and 25% of the country’s total electricity production is sourced from it. The ownership of resources inside the ground, including geothermal energy and hydropower, is attached to a private land or to the State of Iceland. All people planning to use these sources, on public or private land, must retain a license from Orkustofnun.

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Geothermal energy is a great energy alternative to fossil fuels! There are only some minor negatives associated with it, but the positives greatly outweigh those! There are many new technologies coming out now to improve this source even further.

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