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Icelandic Energy Basics

Today, we publish the first post in a special introductory series about the Icelandic energy sector.

This series will include the following seven headings:

-  Icelandic Energy Basics (today)
-  New Low-Cost Renewable Capacity (December 17th)
-  The Icelandic Electricity Generation and Transmission (December 24th)
-  Overview of the Icelandic Energy Business (January 2nd 2013)
-  The Largest Consumers of Electricity in Iceland (January 7th 2013)
-  Future Growth of the Icelandic Energy Industry (January 14th 2013)
-  Gaining from the European Green Drivers (January 21st 2013)



Iceland-Electricity-Production-Per-Capita-ComparsionNatural hydro- and geothermal resources have made Iceland the world’s largest green energy producer per capita.

Last year (2011) the electricity industry in Iceland produced 17,210,000 MWh (17.2 TWh) of electricity, which is close to 54 MWh per capita. In comparison, the average electricity production per capita by the countries within the OECD and EU is close to 9 MWh and 6 MWh, respectively.

What makes the Icelandic energy profile even more interesting, is the fact that all the electricity is produced by harnessing renewable sources only. Renewable energy sources (hydro and geothermal) supply almost 100% of Iceland’s consumption of electricity. Furthermore, geothermal district heating provides almost 90% of Iceland’s heating needs.

Iceland-Energy-Independence-Primary-EnergyIn total, approximately 86% of Iceland’s consumption of primary energy comes from renewable sources. Of that total, 20% comes from hydropower- and 66% from geothermal sources. This is the world’s highest share of renewable energy in any national total energy budget.

Although hydropower and geothermal power offer the lowest cost opportunities, Icelandic wind energy may also be harnessed in the near future. The first large wind turbines in Iceland are expected to become operational in 2013.


Iceland-Primary-Energy-Use-History_1940-2010The high share of renewable energy in Iceland’s energy portfolio (86%) is despite the fact that Iceland imports almost all its transport fuel. Today, imported carbon fuels and other oil products account for 14% of the gross energy consumption in Iceland. This number may soon become somewhat lower, as oil exploration is about to start at the continental shelf deep Northwest of Iceland’s shore.

Iceland’s renewable energy sources are not only abundant, relative to the size of the nation as a whole, but they are also available at a comparatively low cost. The cost issue will be discussed further in next week, here at Icelandic Energy Portal.