When you think of Iceland, you may imagine remote settings, pristine nature, and erupting volcanoes. But did you know that Iceland is also a champion of renewable energy and sustainable solutions?
Iceland has relied on renewable energy for nearly all its electricity and heating needs for more than half a century. The nation’s electricity is generated through hydropower and geothermal energy. Iceland's geothermal power plants produce renewable electricity and make full use of geothermal hot water, steam, cold water, and even carbon dioxide (CO2). Iceland is also exporting its geothermal energy expertise and implementing sustainable energy projects in countries all over the world, including the United States.
Icelanders have a long history of maximizing resources, and their sustainable energy solutions are no exception. In addition to harnessing the power of renewable energy, Icelandic leadership and expertise includes innovations in recycling and the ability to capture, store and transform carbon emissions, protecting the environment from their harmful effects. As part of its commitment to sustainable energy solutions, Iceland is working toward the goal of carbon neutrality by 2040 and is set to become the first fossil fuel–free country in the world by 2050.
Here are several groundbreaking Icelandic companies championing green solutions for a more sustainable future.
1. Converting to clean geothermal energy
is a leading developer and operator of green energy projects, with a mission to export Icelandic success and leadership in geothermal and other renewables to markets in Europe and Asia. The impact of Icelandic solutions and expertise abroad is clearly seen in Arctic Green's operations in China. Through a project with Arctic Green subsidiary Sinopec Green Energy, geothermal district heating in China has already led to tremendously positive environmental impacts as a replacement for coal. To date, Sinopec Green Energy has eliminated more than 11.4 million tons of CO2 emissions.
2. Tapping geothermal and hydropower sources worldwide
provides geothermal and hydropower research and development services to the Icelandic power industry as well as numerous foreign companies and governments all over the world. ISOR hosts the , which promotes the utilization and sustainable management of reliable, economically viable and environmentally sound geothermal energy resources by training representatives from developing countries.
3. Innovative ways to tap into wind power
designs uniquely shaped, robust vertical axis wind turbines that can withstand a variety of challenging environments, with low operation costs. The turbines are designed for telecom, surveillance, and commercial use anywhere you want clean electricity. They are notably weather-resistant, made for extreme conditions and remote areas.
4. Finding a permanent storage solution for CO2
provides a natural and permanent CO2 storage solution by turning CO2 into stone underground in less than two years. The Carbfix mineral storage technology provides an economic and efficient way of permanently removing previously emitted CO2 from the atmosphere, a key component of meeting the world’s climate goals outlined by the Paris Agreement.
5. Recycling CO2 into fuel and chemicals
captures CO2 emissions from any polluting source and turns them into methanol — which can then be used as fuel or as a base for other chemical compounds. The company works with industries around the world to develop valuable products from waste gases and renewable energy.
6. Using geothermal energy to reduce plastic waste
recycles plastic using geothermal energy. Using hot water rather than chemicals to clean the plastic, they then turn that plastic directly into a product that can be used again locally in a circular fashion. The company envisions a future where all plastic in Iceland is recycled locally to eliminate plastic waste export.
7. Enabling banking app users to track and reduce their carbon footprint
The latest innovation from the fintech company is , a white label carbon calculator and engagement tool that enables people to track their carbon footprint based on their purchases, change their habits to minimize their environmental impact, and take action to offset the remaining footprint.
“As Iceland is one of the world leaders in geothermal energy and other innovative, sustainable solutions, our country is eager to share those solutions to help improve the environment everywhere,” said Einar Hansen Tomasson, head of Energy and Green Solutions at Business Iceland. “The export of Icelandic renewable energy expertise is making, and will continue to make, a positive impact on the climate worldwide.”