The Svartsengi geothermal power plant in Iceland – the country is a world leader in such green energy, generated from heat beneath our feet. Photograph: Paul A Souders/Corbis
Iceland’s economy has been rocky since the bank collapse in October 2008, but one field has been expanding — geothermal energy.
Faced with a dearth of projects, Icelandic engineering companies have increasingly been looking overseas for work. They are being supported by the government and even by the President directly, to win projects for tapping geothermal energy abroad.
Katrin Juliusdottir, minister for industry, hosted Indian energy minister Dr. Farooq Abdullah in September to step up cooperation between the two countries in geothermal energy.
At the World Economic Forum in Tianjin, President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson discussed geothermal energy projects with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, and signed an agreement on digging for geothermal energy in Inner Mongolia. The new energy will be used for district heating, greenhouse cultivation and electricity.
Icelandic firm Enex has been working in Shaanxi in China and will also work on the Mongolian project.
Iceland is looking further. “In East Africa utilisation of the geothermal potential could free the people of several nations from the bondage of energy poverty,” foreign minister Ossur Skarphedinsson told the UN General Assembly late September.
State-owned Iceland GeoSurvey (ISOR) is one of the more experienced companies. Set up in 1945 as part of the National Energy Authority, it has worked on geothermal projects in more than 40 countries.
“In Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti, ISOR has carried out geothermal exploration and related activities, while it has also carried out well testing in Germany, numerical modelling in China and capacity building within the governmental sector in Nicaragua,” says ISOR spokesperson Brynja Jonsdottir.