Iceland may not command much of the global economy, but it is known for clear leadership in a few arenas. One of those is energy, as the country gets ~85% of its energy from renewable sources.
Much of that comes from its geothermal energy resources. They provide about 65% of its primary energy. Hydropwer provides another 20% or so. Fossil fuels fill in the other 15%, but that is mostly oil used for transportation. The electric vehicle market is just emerging, and electric vehicles are very well suited for Iceland’s small geographic size, so I expect it won’t be long before Iceland cuts deeply into that remaining 15%.
Geothermal energy directly provides about 85% of household heating. Approximately 100% of electricity is produced using renewables, approximately 75% from hydropower and 25% from geothermal power plants.
All of this makes Iceland both the largest clean energy and clean electricity producer per capita.
One might claim that Iceland is a leader because of its great renewable energy resources. However, practically every country in the world has great renewable energy resources of one kind or another (or multiple kinds). The UK has great wind resources, the US has great renewable resources of all kinds, Australia has great solar and wind reources, China has great resources of all kinds, India has great wind and solar resources, and so on. The success is not in having great renewable energy resources but in taking advantage of them.
Hopefully countries will increasingly be inspired by Iceland’s leadership and follow suit. Iceland President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson is trying to help with that by chairing the Zayed Future Energy Prize Jury. Great work which deserves further applause.
Image Credit: Mark Turner (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license)
Originally published on Sustainnovate.