Well here’s a little fact I didn’t know, and how I didn’t know of this is almost shaming on my part, but I simply have to share it. That little ice-bound island sitting astride the mid-Atlantic ridge, which occasionally spews out a handful of ash big enough to shutdown our air-space, is touting a fully green energy mix; that’s right, Iceland is 100% renewable, and has been for a fair amount of time.
At this moment, Iceland generates its entire electricity needs via hydro and geothermal sources, with not a fossil fuel powered plant to speak of or point angrily at. Not only this, but their electricity prices are amongst the most competitive in Europe, with many of their price guarantees and policies locking in enticing costs for both the customer and the provider. It’s practically the perfect environment for judging how well an entirely renewable mix can work.
Not only that, it gets better and better. Iceland’s freezing climate may put many off from visiting the eclectic nation, but for power hungry energy companies, it’s the golden setting. With cold winds and temperatures abundant all year round, huge hosting and data centres can be efficiently cooled purely through the action of wall vents and the odd open window. Because of this, electricity slurping climate controls don’t need to be employed, enticing big names such as Verne Global to the little country.
Now many of the reasons for renewables dominating the Icelandic mix are down to its Goldilocks geographical location, and relatively small population of just 320,000. With abundant volcano-fuelled thermal energy year-round, with glacial meltwater streams, rivers and lakes, they simply don’t need anything else; combine this with a small population and you’re onto a winner.
The only real issue to us wannabe green-nations, is that it still doesn’t really offer us a viable look into the renewable world available that we want. Geothermal is relatively limited worldwide, especially to Europe and Asia, and a large majority of the current hydro energy is already tapped, with a strong social stigma attached to further damming. Our focus is on solar, wind and marine energies, of which Iceland employs none of, so in that respect, we can’t begin basing our own future policies on the Icelandics; but that’s a minor niggle, they’re sorted.
In coming years, Iceland desperately hopes that their intense slant towards green energy and smart low-carbon techniques will draw in an ever-growing number of multi-national companies and professionals craving renewable energies to power up it’s economy and quell the 6% unemployment rate hanging over their heads.
It looks like it’s already began, so from now on I will most certainly be keeping an eye on this silently forward-looking island of the Atlantic.