Natural resources and energy
Iceland’s most important natural resources are the abundant fish stocks and great access to hydropower. The country also has plenty of geothermal energy (geothermal heat), but has no major mineral resources, though oil and natural gas exploration is off the coast.
Electricity consumption per inhabitant is among the highest in the world, but most of the electricity is used in the aluminum industry. Over 85 percent of the electricity consumed is generated in the country. Almost three quarters of this comes from hydropower and just under a quarter from geothermal heat. Almost the entire population is heating their homes with natural hot water from hot springs. Around 10 percent of the energy demand is covered by imported fuel, mainly diesel for the fishing fleet and gasoline for cars.
- COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Iceland with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
Hydropower and geothermal heat give Iceland a relatively clean energy use. All electricity and two-thirds of total energy consumption comes from renewable energy sources.
Iceland has long had plans to create the world’s first “hydrogen economy” and phase out gasoline and diesel in cars, buses and ships. The country’s large capacity for electricity generation is intended to be used for the production of large quantities of hydrogen, which in turn can be used to generate electricity in powerful batteries. The world’s first commercial refueling station for hydrogen powered vehicles opened in Reykjavík in 2003.
Iceland has invaluable resources in the form of land, water and air with limited environmental impact. However, environmental organizations have protested against the hydropower expansion, especially the construction of the Kárahnjúkar power plant in eastern Iceland, which was in use in 2008.
- Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, IS stands for Iceland. Visit itypeusa for more information about Iceland.
FACTS – ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
17,479 kilograms of oil equivalent (2015)
Electricity consumption per person
53832 kilowatt hours, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
1 984 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
6.1 tons (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
77.0 percent (2015)
Norwegian companies should look for oil
The state-owned Norwegian oil company Petero AS announces that it will start drilling for oil northeast of Iceland.
Negotiations start in the EFTA Court
Iceland is accused of discriminating against foreign savers in connection with the bank’s Icesave bankruptcy.
Import ban on Icelandic mackerel
The European Parliament bans the import of Icelandic mackerel and introduces a ban on landing in EU ports. The sanctions are a result of the EU and Iceland dispute since 2010 on mackerel quotas, where Iceland unilaterally increased its catch quota as the mackerel population grew in Icelandic waters.
EU negotiations create conflicts within the government
Negotiations on EU membership are moving forward, while two Ministers from the Left-Green are demanding that they be re-examined. Prime Minister Sigurðardóttir calls for calm within the coalition.
President Grímsson re-elected
President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson is re-elected for a fifth term. He gets 53 percent of the vote against 33 percent of the challenger, TV reporter Þóra Arnórsdóttir.
Former Prime Minister Haarde avoids punishment
Former Prime Minister Geir Hilmar Haarde of the Independence Party is acquitted of three out of four counts in the national prosecution and avoids punishment. Haarde is, however, convicted of failing to call for special government meetings during the banking crisis of 2008. The judgment refers to Article 17 of the Constitution. Haarde believes that the judges have bowed to political pressure and have given his opponents a “consolation prize” by folding him at one point. He believes that the verdict is a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The court process against Haarde begins
Former Prime Minister Geir Hilmar Haarde is facing a judicial process to investigate his responsibility for the banking crisis in 2008. Haarde describes the trial as a father’s and the prosecution as a political persecution.
Conflict over mackerel fishing
After Iceland’s mackerel catch increased sharply in 2011 (see Agriculture and Fisheries), the country receives harsh criticism from the EU and Norway for not wanting to compromise on catch quotas. The EU and Norway claim that Iceland’s unilaterally raised quotas threaten the mackerel population in the North Atlantic.