From: Robin Blackstone, ENN
Published October 3, 2013 02:19 PM

Running Hot and Cold in Iceland

Iceland's economy runs hot and then cold—and then hot and cold again! And Icelanders like it that way. Created from a volcano more than 50 million years ago, Iceland's environment is one of the harshest yet one of the kindest when it comes to energy.  The island nation sits atop this natural heat pack and is, as a result, poised to become the first country in the world to run 100% on renewable energy. This is because the volcano is still active bubbling and ulcerating perpetually altering the landscape.

 

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The Icelandic people extract warm water and store it in tanks to provide an unlimited supply of free central heating. The heated water is extracted and placed into tanks where it is converted to steam.  The pressurized steam then turns the turbines, which operate the country’s geothermal power stations providing electricity to the people and businesses of Iceland.

This is very important for high tech companies that require an enormous amount of power to operate their equipment.  In fact, more than half of the energy required to operate their computer servers and other high tech equipment is in the form of cooling equipment to temper the heat generated by the computers for their operation.  Technology giants are beginning to get it. Facebook has relocated its server farm to Sweden and Google is operating out of Finland.  This leaves other companies like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and IBM to speculate.

Iceland might be a more optimal choice though because while it seems odd to suggest establishing such equipment on a grumbling landscape, only the eastern side of the island is actively erupting. Further the prevailing winds take volcanic ashes east. This leaves the western side of the island nation crisp and clear with all of the underlying benefits of the geothermal features. The ever-ready source for heat in the freezing cold climate makes its heating more than just environmentally subsidized—it is free. And by harvesting its strengths under steam pressure it electrifies as well.

In addition to harvesting the natural resources for immediate benefit, Icelandic entrepreneurs have also embarked upon a new venture utilizing Geosynthesis to export their resource in form of a new product called Volcanol, which is blended into gasoline. The new product is compatible with existing energy and fuel infrastructure and meets renewable energy directives. Icelandic company Carbon Recycling International has begun to sell this product commercially.

This is an economic game changer for Iceland. Iceland recently experienced an economic downturn as a result of the failure of the banking industry in 2008 and currently tourism is the primary industry. However, with geothermal technology and its associative operational elements firmly in place, Iceland anticipates turning their economy around by inviting high tech companies requiring huge amounts of operational power to relocate to this global hot spot.

Read more here:

OnEarth and Yale Environment 360

And see video here:

BBC Technology

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