Valgerður Sverrisdóttir Minister of Industry and Commerce.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished guests.
I would like to welcome you all to Iceland and thank you for the opportunity to address you at this European Conference on Impacts of Climate Change on Renewable Energy Sources. Iceland is the perfect location for a conference on the themes of renewable energy and climate change.
Utilisation of renewable energy
When it comes to energy production, we are fortunate to inhabit a country that has different renewable resources. Our focus has mainly been on hydro and geothermal resources and the energy sector in Iceland has gained knowledge and expertice from their previous work in these fields. They have also shown that they are not afraid to enter new fields. An example of this is the International Deep Drilling Project which aims at drilling to some 5 km in a high temperature field to find supercritical fluids. According to modelling, the power output from such wells could be 5-10 times higher than from conventional high-temperature wells. We have also been examining other resources such as biomass, wind and sun. However, conditions in those fields are currently less favourable.
The utilisation of renewable energy resources is a very important part of daily life and public welfare in Iceland. Arround 72% of the country’s total primary energy comes from renewable energy sources, which is a unique situation in the world. The use of these energy sources is of considerable economic significance for Iceland and one of the main pillars of the nation’s welfare and prosperity in recent decades.
We are very proud of our achievements in recent decades in utilising our resources. Over 99% of all electricity in Iceland is produced by renewable resources, either hydro or geothermal. Approximately 88% of Icelandic housing is geothermally heated and 11% is heated by electrcity. This means that practically all house heating comes from renewable energy sources. Our aim is nevertheless to do even better and the long term goal is to become a self-sufficient energy provider for all our energy needs by using our own renewable energy resources. Hydrogen technology is for example one option we are seriously pursuing with partners on both sides of the Atlantic for using local renewable energy resources to produce a pollution free energy carrier for vehicles and ships.
The challenges we face today; climate change, sustainable development and security of energy supply; are all important issues. The use of renewable energy resources is vital in this context.
Globally, Iceland’s emissions of greenhouse gases may be small, but climate change is serious matter that affects us all. Therefore, Iceland can make a contribution to global efforts in combatting climate change. The utilization of Iceland’s clean and renewable energy sources is positive in this respect.
It is important to realise that the world primary energy demand is expected to grow by almost 60% between 2000 and 2030 according to a recent Scenario of the International Energy Agency, and fossil fuel is expected to account for around 85% of this increase. The global energy-related CO2 emission is expected to increase by 62% during this period, but unfortunately the share of renewable resources in the total energy consumption is expected to remain almost unchanged.
Therefore, we have to use all the options available in utilising renewable energy sources to combat climate change, especially where we have available clean technologies that can be used much more widely than today. Geothermal energy is very competitive in many parts of the world, and although it is not found in every country, it is estimated that hundreds of millions of people could benefit from both electricity and heat from new geothermal resources. This is particularly true for many developing countries and it is extremely important to increase the share of geothermal use in these countries in near future. I want to ephasize that Iceland is willing to share its experience in the field of renewable resources with other nations.
With these words I declare the Conference open.