Published on January 25th, 2015 | by Zachary Shahan


President of Iceland Speaks With CleanTechnica (3 Exclusive Videos)

January 25th, 2015 by  

One of the greatest privileges of the week was speaking with the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. He has been on the Jury of the Zayed Future Energy Prize for years (since the beginning, actually), and I was able to interview him one-on-one following the Zayed Future Energy Prize press conference. Below are a few videos from that interview.

The first one is all about the Zayed Future Energy Prize, which I have been closely covering for the past 8 months or so. I love the prize and Ólafur does too. Check out his comments here:

Ólafur is a strong advocate for climate action. It is one of his true priorities. Luckily, Iceland has thoroughly tapped geothermal energy. It gets ~26% of its electricity and 87% of its buildings’ heating and hot water requirements from this source. I asked Ólafur about geothermal energy potential around the world, and he had a very interesting answer:

I was also curious about Iceland’s work on electric vehicles, since the country seems so ideal for electric vehicles (relatively small island country & super-clean electricity). Here’s his response:

*Full Disclosure: My trip to and accommodation in Abu Dhabi for the Zayed Future Energy PrizeWorld Future Energy Summit, and other Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week events was covered by Masdar. That said, I have full editorial control over the work and am publishing it without feedback. I am only covering things that I find very interesting or important, and that I think others will find interesting or important.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • What it look like

    It is a tremendous goal and doable.

  • Shane 2

    How does their CO2 emissions per capita stack up with Germany and the USA?

  • Kyle Field

    To be fair, the lower the population, the higher I would expect emissions per captia as they don’t get all the advantages of scale.

    The point about aluminum production (which serves the global populus) is not representative of their true per capta consumption though it is still something we need to drive down.

    Finally, it’s cold in iceland which requires more heating which is energy intensive (heating water, heating air, keeping little children from freezing and keeping the car running/warming up)…at least more than we do here in southern california.

    Probably less opportunities for walking/bicycling due to the weather though these could be mitigated with public transit or a more intentional focus on telecommuting.

  • eveee

    One must separate out industrial uses from residential, commercial, etc.
    Countries with very little industry have the lowest per capita energy use.

  • Martin

    Yes the problem with people all over the world is that if something is “cheap” you can waste it, or at least some of it.

    • Kyle Field

      That’s a mindset we need to antiquate sooner rather than later and replace with “The more you know, the less you need”

  • sjc_1

    Iceland has lots of geothermal electricity to produce aluminum. They also get CO2 from the geothermal, along with hydrogen produced from geothermal electricity, they can make fuels. Enough fuels to run their whole fishing fleet.

    • Kyle Field

      Making fuels is fine, but does nothing to abate climate change.

      • sjc_1

        Sure it does, right now the fleet is burning petroleum fossil diesel and venting geothermal CO2. Now you would be using the geothermal CO2 for fuel and not using the petroleum fossil CO2.

        • Kyle Field

          The net is still emissions being released when the fleet drives. There’s additional overhead of having to produce the fuel which must be managed. If the total emissions with produced fuels is lower than emissions from petro fuels, that’s an improvement.

          As Shakespeare said “emissions by any other name still warm the planet”

          • sjc_1

            A reduction in CO2 is better than no reduction at all. Reuse CO2 to reduce emissions, progress is the art of the possible.

  • dogphlap dogphlap

    A lot of that energy goes to production of Aluminium.

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  • Kyle Field

    His comment about EVs wasn’t very firm. Sounds like – we tried but others dropped the ball. There is potential in the future…but no commitment to actually do anything or any plans in place 🙁

    • Offgridman

      I got more of the impression that Iceland like all of us is just waiting for the manufacturer’s to come out with vehicles that are usable and available.
      The comment on others dropping the ball was in reference to their starting a hydrogen infrastructure ten years ago for their busses but then the cars either fool cell or H2 fueled never became available.
      While the distance to travel might not be as far as some other countries Iceland will still need EV’s that can operate in extreme cold and in some cases be all wheel drive, you don’t want to run out of charge when getting away from volcanic activity. 😀
      Which means the most expensive Tesla that just became available recently.
      Not that some people couldn’t make do with some of the EV models now available, but I seem to recall reading that the people there are also primarily drivers of trucks and SUV’s. So to become an all EV society it is still a case of waiting on the manufacturer’s to produce and make available everywhere vehicles that will meet the needs and desires.

      • Kyle Field

        I get the statement…but that’s not a luxury that we have. We need swift action, led by governments (Germany, Japan), forward looking companies (Tesla, Solar City) and visionary individuals (Elon Musk, Zachary Shahan, Carlos Ghosn).

        Ideally, I wouldnt have bought my current EV because it’s obviously a gen 1 with gen 1 limitations. However…I don’t think we have the luxury of sitting around waiting for the perfect EV to get here in 5 or 10 years. We need to cut emissions now. We need action on that front now. We need aggressive leadership now.

        I suppose I was hoping for more from a climate leader but hey, at least he’s very engaged and pushing on the global front. I was just expecting more action from someone as connected as he is.

        • Shane 2

          Germany has the worst CO2 per capita emissions of the major 5 EU economies.

  • Martin

    Now if only other heads of state would think and act like that, our worlds problems would become so much smaller and global warming with such action.

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