Iceland Geothermal at WGC 2015 in Melbourne
Iceland at the World Geothermal Congress 2015
Wednesday April 22, 2015
Iceland receives warm welcome and is praised for its extensive work on international geothermal development, research and education at the World Geothermal Congress 2015, Melbourne Australia
Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir, Minister of Industry & Commerce (Energy)
Bjarni Pálsson, Manager of Projects Department
Bjarni Richter, Project & Marketing Manager, Iceland GeoSurvey (ISOR)
Luðvik Georgsson, Director, UNU Geothermal Training Program
Rósbjörg Jónsdóttir, Communications Manager, Iceland Geothermal
The geothermal world is currently meeting in Melbourne at the World Geothermal Congress. This is the largest gathering of the global geothermal industry taking place every five years, this year being held in Melbourne, Australia.
With over 100 people, Iceland represents one of the largest delegations at the congress. To highlight the importance of geothermal energy to Iceland, its economy and its way of living, the country’s Minister of Industry and Commerce, Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir is attending the event promoting the country and its geothermal expertise.
In a press meeting, the Minister and representatives of the geothermal sector in Iceland talked about the role of geothermal energy in Iceland, research and development activities in Iceland and internationally. It was also talked about geothermal education and the next World Geothermal Congress, which will be held in Iceland in 2020.
In a passionate introduction, the Minister talked about how important geothermal energy has been to Iceland. With the broad utilization for district heating, power generation and other forms of utilization, geothermal has been a strong part of the lives of the people of Iceland. She particularly mentioned how important geothermal heating has been to Iceland, not only providing a sustainable source of heat, but also making the country independent from having to import coal and oil for heating.
The Minister also talked about the country’s geothermal power sector and how the development has helped create a thriving industry that is active internationally. With now 665 MW of installed geothermal power generation capacity and the international activities of Icelandic companies the country is among the leading countries in the geothermal world. With the unique utilization of geothermal energy beyond power generation and district heating, Iceland has show that there are many more opportunities that can be developed around geothermal plants. A good example is the Geothermal Resource Park on the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland. There the spill off water of a geothermal power plant has developed into the largest tourist attraction of the country, the Blue Lagoon, but also attracted a number of other companies that have developed business utilizing geothermal energy. Among them are greenhouses, fish drying , fish farming, skin care products, but also a company that creates methanol from CO2 emissions of the geothermal plant.
She also talked about her experience in the meetings she had in conjunction with the World Geothermal Congress. Yesterday, she met with New Zealand’s Minister of Energy and she referred to the interest of cooperation of both countries in geothermal development in markets such as Africa. With the existing synergies of the geothermal industry in both countries, there could be great opportunities for business development to the benefit of companies in Iceland and New Zealand.
The Minister further highlighted a recent event in Paris, France, where Reykjavik University and the University of Strasbourg signed a cooperation agreement. This showcases the value that Iceland has to offer.
Talking then about Iceland’s current development and research, Bjarni Pálsson, Manager of Power Projects at the National Power Company (Landsvirkjun) provided an overview on the groundbreaking Iceland Deep Drilling Project.
The project is a consortium by three Icelandic energy companies, financially supported by a variety of international partners and organizations. The purpose of the project is to find out if it is economically feasible to extract energy and chemicals out of hydrothermal systems at supercritical conditions. The first well was drilled in 2009 but hit magma. So while it was not the expected outcome the well still showed potential with superheated steam and a potential of up to 20 MW of power generation capacity and up to 500 degrees Celsius at the bottom of the well. The drilling of a second well is now planned on the Reykjanes Peninsula.
The project has received some fantastic reception at the congress, with 15 papers being presented at a special session on the project.
He then discussed further geothermal development in Iceland and referred to Iceland General Master Plan. The plan was developed comparing the economic feasibility and the environmental impact of proposed power development projects in Iceland. In 2013 the plan put many geothermal projects in the forefront for development. Earlier this month, Landsvirkjun has commenced the construction phase of a new geothermal power project in the North of Iceland and there are more projects in the pipeline.
The meeting then went on to discuss the role of the Icelandic geothermal sector internationally. Bjarni Richter, Project & Marketing Manager of Iceland GeoSurvey (ISOR) described activities of Iceland’s geothermal sector internationally. Icelandic geothermal specialists have been working on projects and supporting development efforts in South, Latin and North America, in Europe, Africa and Asia. The work has covered both actual consultations to private companies and institution, as well as the training of experts around the world. The largest effort is through the United Nations University Geothermal Training Programme. Icelandic companies have done consulting work namely through engineering firms, energy developers and geological institutions covering most aspects of geothermal development. This includes exploration, drilling, resource management, power plant and steam-field development, design & construction and of course training.
The Geothermal Training Programme of the United Nations University (UNU-GTP) has played an important role in capacity building for geothermal in developing countries. Founded 36 years ago in Iceland, the postgraduate training program has trained more than 600 fellows from 58 countries. The Director of the program, Luðvik Georgsson, described how the program assists developing countries in building its capacities in geothermal exploration and development. The 6-month program in Iceland entails training for practicing professionals from developing and transitional countries with significant geothermal potential. The program currently has 30 students, and has also offered students to continue their studies for a Master or even a PhD degree. Working together with the Icelandic geothermal sector and the universities, many industry professionals have helped in the training efforts. The programme is funded by the Icelandic government as part of its development aid efforts. It has grown substantially over the years. At the World Geothermal Congress, fellows of the program have delivered 220 papers and there are about 100 fellows of the program present at the event.
In 2010, the Iceland Geothermal cluster initiative was founded to give the Icelandic geothermal industry a common voice. The Iceland Geothermal Cluster today represents the geothermal sector and focuses on communication, innovation and knowledge sharing. The inititative is also creating synergies and representation of the sector.
On befhalf of the cluster, Rósbjörg Jónsdóttir, the organization’s communication director, gave an overview on the activities and highlighting in particular the work on the unique startup accelerator program, Startup Energy Reykjavik. The program promotes and supports startups that are building on the know-how and experience of the geothermal and broader energy market. There are also efforts on international cooperation with other cluster initiatives, e.g. with the French geothermal cluster GEODEEP. She introduced the 3rd Iceland Geothermal Conference to take place in April 2016 and the World Geothermal Congress, which will be hosted in Iceland 2020.