Geothermal Education Office

ICELAND AND OTHER ATLANTIC ISLANDS - Iceland is a volcanic island on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge rift zone. From the earliest settlement (ninth century) crops were planted in naturally-heated ground for rapid growth and early harvest. Iceland has many high and low temperature geothermal systems, and if hydropower were not so abundant, geothermal electrical production would be far greater. Even so, geothermal energy is Iceland's second largest source of energy, with more than 5877 GWh/yr used for heating (85% of all houses!), bathing, greenhouses, soil heating, fish farming and industry, along with 49.4 MWe of electrical generation. Geothermal power stations presently under construction will more than double the present geothermal generating capacity. Reykjavik ("Bay of Steam"), the capital, with more than 145,000 people, pipes hot water to every house at a cost less than cold water. In the 1980s Iceland decreased its dependence on imported oil by increasing heating with geothermal. The Azores, just off the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, have volcanoes, hot springs and a 4.6 MWe power plant. Further drilling and development is underway on San Miguel to provide 40% of its electricity needs. Geothermal hot springs and fumaroles are also found on the Canary Islands.

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October 11, 1997
© 1997 Geothermal Education Office