Iceland is not a large country and it only has a population of around 330,000 — but it does have plenty of geothermal and hydro-electric sources. In fact according to a recent TreeHugger article written by editor Lloyd Alter, almost 99.5% of the country’s power comes from renewable sources. The country is so successful in providing clean energy, that other countries want to get in on the action — including the UK.
For several months, the UK has been working with Iceland in order to construct a giant 930 mile undersea cable to pump some of Iceland’s plentiful supply of geothermal energy to the UK. Energy Minister Charles Hendry, due to visit Reykjavik next month, said Iceland was “very keen” on the idea. If successful, the scheme could certainly grow beyond the UK to benefit a number of other countries.
However, there are some that are concerned about Iceland’s geothermal expansion. Environmental group ‘Saving Iceland’ has warned that recent studies show links between asthma and sulphur pollution from geothermal power plants.
On the group’s website, they wrote: “Those who promote large-scale geothermal energy production as green and environmentally friendly, are once again forced to face another backlash as a recent research suggests a direct link between sulphur pollution from the Hellisheiði geothermal plant and asthma among the inhabitants of Reykjavík.”
Saving Iceland has also criticized the excess water and runoff that goes with geothermal projects, saying that it should be pumped back into the earth in order to prevent polluting impacts and the creation of lagoons containing a huge amount of polluting materials.
Despite the vast amounts of cheap electricity, especially compared to the country’s high fuel prices, one thing that has yet to be adopted in Iceland is the electric car. Unfortunately, due to the rugged landscape of the country, much of the population uses SUVs. In fact, Lloyd Alter notes on his recent trip to the country, that it is only to 11 electric cars!