His Excellency Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson is the president of Iceland. He visited Seattle recently and joined members of the Washington Clean Technology Alliance and the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle to discuss business opportunities with his country. Included in the discussions were briefings on the use of geothermal power.
For the past thirty years, Iceland has been at the global forefront in developing geothermal energy. Since the early 1940’s, geothermal energy has been the primary source of electric energy in Iceland. Given the its vast resources, over ninety-eight percent of all energy generated in Iceland is renewable with 80% of Iceland’s total energy mix being from renewable sources.
Geothermal energy provides Iceland with 600 MW of electrical power and almost 1,000 MW of thermal energy from geothermal sources used for district space heating. Newer geothermal projects in Iceland are among the most cost-effective energy developed globally in recent years producing energy at costs as low as US $0.02 – 0.025 per KWh. Iceland has developed a “knowledge cluster” for geothermal resource development around that has largely been founded around domestic projects in Iceland. As geothermal energy projects gain popularity globally, Iceland’s geothermal experts are in a position to provide the knowledge base to projects around the globe.
In the future, Icelandic geothermal potential may be 5,000 MW or more using Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) and Deep Drilling Technology (DDT). However, the global recession and Iceland’s IMF bailout program is hindering its capability to continue investing in energy infrastructure. If Iceland is not capable of continuing to finance its geothermal projects, the global geothermal cluster and retention of existing know-how is endangered.