Iceland has long been a worldwide leader in the development and consumption of energy provided by sustainable resources. Since the late 1990s, almost
Iceland has long been a worldwide leader in the development and consumption of energy provided by sustainable resources. Since the late 1990s, almost three-quarters of the country’s total consumed energy has been provided via sustainable sources. An omnipresent resource, geothermal energy accounts for 25 percent of the nation’s electrical power generation and supplies almost 90 percent of its residential heating needs. Over the past 30 years, Iceland has reportedly reduced CO2 emissions nearly 40 percent. By contrast, the U.S. Û the world’s chief geothermal energy producer (the largest geothermal electric plant is located in California) Û uses this renewable resource to meet only 0.3 percent of its energy needs.
Geothermal energy is generated by heat stored beneath the earth’s surface. Using less than 1 percent of the earth’s total stored heat energy would supply power for 13,000 years. Geothermal energy may be employed for residential and industrial applications in areas of the world with abundant volcanic activity, e.g., Iceland and western U.S. Clean and environmentally safe, geothermal energy is also sustainable, as the hot water can be reinjected into the power-production process.