In the 2008-2011 Iceland economic crisis, all three of the country’s major privately owned banks collapsed due to an inability to refinance short-term debt. When taking into account the small size of Iceland’s economy, the crisis was the largest seen in any country. Ever. Now on the rebound, new projects are being developed to make use of Iceland’s abundant sources of clean energy.
This makes sense, as Iceland is already a global green energy leader. The country uses oil only to satisfy transportation needs, relying on geothermal and hydroelectric power for all else.
One project in the works, by the Landsvirkjun firm, is an ambitious undersea power cable designed to transfer hydroelectric power to Scotland. The pipe will cost an estimated $2.1 billion, but is predicted to be very profitable if successful. Some Icelanders worry, however, that the pipe will cause a spike in energy prices within Iceland. The parliament and cabinet now must decide whether to move forward.
Carbfix is another project, with potential implications far outside the Icelandic borders. Created at the University of Iceland, Carbfix provides an ingenious way to pull CO2 from the atmosphere and stash it permanently. It pumps the greenhouse gas into underground water, where it reacts, dissolves, and eventually solidifies as a carbonate. Reykjavik Energy is set to begin the using process to deal with unwanted hydrogen sulfide, a byproduct of geothermal energy production.