Top Ten Highlights of Cleantech Iceland

Cleantech has always been a big part of the structure in Iceland. Currently, more than 80% of the primary energy in Iceland comes from renewable energy sources. The goal of Iceland is to become not only carbon-free, but oil-free by the year 2050. Because of Iceland’s isolation from the rest of the European continent, it has had to rely a lot on renewable sources because of the increase in price to have fossil fuels shipped over. The Icelandic government has been a huge sponsor in harnessing domestic renewable energy sources, which has included hydropower and geothermal power.

1) HyFLEET:CUTE. Iceland is part of HyFLEET:CUTE a project the gears toward the operation of 47 hydrogen powered busses to be used as part of the regular public transportation services throughout ten cities in three continents – Europe, Asia, and Australia. With partners from the government, industry, academic, as well as consulting organizations, working alongside some of the top technology and automotive development companies, transport operators and major energy companies, the goal is the development of a hydrogen-bus based transportation system by the twenty-second century. Through creating hydrogen bus technology, HyFLEET:CUTE is also hoping to develop environmentally friendly and efficient ways to produce hydrogen.

2) RES: The School for Renewable Energy Science. The goal of RES School for Renewable Energy Science is to provide renewable energy science and technology through educational programs. Because of Iceland’s extreme knowledge and use of renewable energy science and technology, it has created the school in an effort to educate others internationally on how to create opportunities to use renewable energies. The researchers at the school are some of the leading energy experts in the world. Current projects going on at the school include the complete elimination of the Icelandic dependence on fossil fuels in the fishing and transportation sectors.

3) Geothermal Power Stations. Because of Iceland’s geological location, the large volcano concentration has given Iceland an advantage is utilizing geothermal energy to produce electricity and heating throughout the country. There are currently five geothermal power plants, including the Reykjanes, Krafla, and Svartsengi power stations. These, when combined, equal almost one-fourth of Iceland’s total energy. As well, geothermal heating meets the necessity for heat and hot water in more than 80% of all buildings.

4) Ecological City Transport System. Launched in March of 2000, the Ecological City Transport System, or ECTOS, is a European Union project located in Reykjavik, Iceland, which seeks to create fuel cell buses. The objective is to create a demonstration of latest hydrogen technology, by employing the use of fuel cells when running the public transportation system. The hydrogen will be produced through Iceland’s own hydro-powered and geothermal energy sources, creating a CO2-free energy chain. ECTOS also researches the impact this new form of public transportation will have on the socio-economic factors including in a modern urban society.

5) Orkuveita Reyjavikur. Orkuveita Reykjavikur is one of the largest geothermal electric providers in Iceland. It provides electricity, heating, and cold water from geothermal sources. It covers 20 Icelandic communities, which is more than 65% of the total population. Hot water located in geothermal fields found in Reykjavik are used and distributed to businesses and homes. The steam plants are located in Nesjavellir and Hellisheidi. Orkuveita Reykjavikur participates in a number of other programs, including Carb-Fix, a project to locate ways to store CO2 safely as solid calcium carbonate, and the International Deep Drilling Project.

6) Orkustofunun: National Energy Authority. The National Energy Authority is a government agency that is looked over by the Ministry of Industry, Energy, and Tourism in Iceland. It is responsible for dialogue with the Icelandic government on a variety of topics including the promotion of energy research, and energy resource development and exploitation. It is one of the foremost leading geothermal energy research institutions throughout the world. They are pivotal in working along the government creating policies regarding the development of geothermal resources, as well as advising on how to utilize the resources. The National Energy Authority looks over not only geothermal energy, but also hydropower, which provides roughly 20% of total Icelandic energy, as well as gas and oil exploration.

7) Iceland GeoSurvey. Also known as ISOR, Iceland GeoSurvey, is one of the leading providers of technical and scientific expertise on the geothermal industry, both nationally and internationally. ISOR provides consultations to services throughout the globe that want to know more about the exploration, development and well as utilization of geothermal energy. Originally part of the National Energy Authority, it is now a separate unit dedicated to being at the head of research and development into geosciences, locating opportunities to enhance geothermal resources, geothermal development promotions, increasing public understanding and awareness of geothermal issues, and participation in geothermal development projects throughout the world. ISOR currently has geothermal projects in many countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, United States, Kenya, and China.

8 ) Icelandic Recycling Fund. Set up by the Minister for the Environment, the Icelandic Recycling Fund creates solutions on how to control the amount of waste being created by society. The guidelines for the fund are based on the “polluter pays principle.” It means that the business that causes the waste needs to be responsible for its reuse, recovery, as well as disposal. The fund shifts the responsibility to those who create the waste, regardless of who they are, creating what is known as “producer liability.” The Icelandic Recycling Fund is tasked with developing conditions that would allow for the recovery and reuse of waste, lowing the total amount disposed and providing proper disposal methods for hazardous substances.

9) Hydrogen Fuel Cell Automobiles. Because Iceland does rank high in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, the country has been looking for alternative methods that would not only keep greenhouse gases low, but also further reduce the necessity for fossil fuels, which is around $8 a gallon. Numerous top automobile companies, including General Motors, Daimler Chrysler, and Toyota have all been coming to Iceland to use the market to test hydrogen fuel cell automobile prototypes. Currently, the Mercedes Benz A-Class F-Cell, powered by a fuel cell from Daimler Chrysler, is the first to be hitting the streets.

10) Icelandic New Energy Ltd. Founded in 1999, Icelandic New Energy endorses hydrogen fuel use. Created by the University of Iceland and owned by Vistorka, Norsk Hydro, Shell Hydrogen, and Daimler Chrysler, it is the major promoter of hydrogen transportation.

Article by Shawn Lesser, president and founder of Atlanta-based Sustainable World Capital, which is focused on fund-raising for private equity cleantech/sustainable funds, as well as private cleantech companies and M&A. He is also a co- founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association, and can be reached at

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