Iceland behind America’s geothermal push

Geothermal Energy in IcelandA lot of the impetus behind the current US drive for geothermal alternatives to fossil fuels comes from across the Atlantic, in Iceland.

Iceland America Energy is one of the many companies currently exploring the geothermal possibilities in the United States. CEO Magnus Johannesson sees huge potential for both geothermal energy production in the US and for its uses.

Johannesson suggests that geothermal energy could be used to power air conditioning systems in Las Vegas and snow removal systems in the Rocky Mountains.

Across the country swimming pools could also be heated by geothermal energy, whilst more specialist applications would be applied to particular regions. Alaskans, for example, could use geothermal energy for fish drying operations, whilst Californians might be more interested in fruit dryers.

The Geothermal Resources Council conducted a survey in 2005 which revealed that the US has ten times the geothermal potential of Iceland, although it is considerably less developed. The US has only harnessed a fraction of its energy potential but since 2005 geothermal capacity has increased by 20 per cent.

In order to help Americans exploit their geothermal potential, several Icelandic businesses are setting up shop in the US. Glitnir, a Nordic investment bank and specialist in geothermal and sustainable energy, this year opened an office in New York in order to help finance investment in the sector.

Iceland America Energy recently opened a branch in Los Angeles in order to develop geothermal plants in California. Geysir Green Energy, another Icelandic investment firm, has invested in a Canadian energy firm working in California.

However, Icelandic firms are facing stiff competition from local businesses such as Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, who are also investing in geothermal energy projects.