Icelandic Solutions

By  Sunniva Bratt Slette

Concrete Climate Action

Icelanders caught global attention when the funeral of Okjökull, the first Icelandic glacier lost to climate change, was held in August 2019. The memorial plate "Bréf til framtíðarinnar" (Letter to the Future) urged for change, so that the CO² concentration of 415 ppm would not be exceeded to such levels that the rest of the country's glaciers fare the same fate.

Iceland is the world's largest electricity producer per capita, well ahead of Norway which holds second place with half the electricity production per capita as Iceland. Iceland's fortunate geographic location gives access to both hydro and geothermal energy. As one of very few countries in the world, Iceland produces 100 per cent renewable electricity for its 350 000 inhabitants. In addition, 90 per cent of households are heated directly with geothermal energy. Hydropower accounts for roughly 70% of electricity production, while geothermal provides 30%. For now. Short term implications of melting glaciers are increased hydroelectric power due to more runoff water, whereas longer term consequences are reduced or lost ability to produce renewable hydroelectricity entirely. The future energy system is under debate, with a moving target on how to design it depending on the outcome of global warming.


Direct Air Carbon Capture

Climeworks is an exciting Swiss company that has set Icelandic geography in action to reverse climate change. On September 8th, the world's largest climate-positive direct air carbon capture plant will open in the Geothermal Park in Hellisheidi, Iceland. The plant named Orca will capture carbon dioxide directly from the air, thereby removing unavoidable and historic CO₂ emissions. It will capture 4000 tons of CO₂ per year and store the CO₂ underground. Icelandic nature and its peoples' determination to contribute to reverse the global climate crisis is inspirational. Hopefully, the energy spent on climate solutions will help during the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) meeting in Glasgow. The climate top meeting might give nations worldwide the last push which is needed to spark public and private collaboration for a zero emission future.

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