There are numerous opportunities for energy-related innovation in Iceland. Innovative companies have benefitted from increased expertise and the development of an appropriate environment and infrastructure, providing ideal conditions for ideas and creativity to thrive.
Innovation within the energy industry is an ever-expanding part of Landsvirkjun’s operations. The Company is a leader in the sustainable utilisation of renewable energy resources and supports increased expertise, innovation and technological development. Increased innovation and increased value creation enables us to utilise the resources we have been entrusted with more efficiently and to lay the foundation for a stronger and better society.
Landsvirkjun works in cooperation with a variety of parties: entrepreneurs, universities and other educational institutions, companies and individual researchers (both national and international). Landsvirkjun also conducts a broad range of research on ecosystems, climate, hydrology, geology and glaciers.
Startup Energy Reykjavík (SER) is a business accelerator program which was established in December, 2013 and has been held yearly since 2014. Landsvirkjun’s partners in the project include Arion Bank, GEORG and Innovation Center Iceland and the program is facilitated by Icelandic Startups and the Iceland Geothermal Cluster.
Seven innovative companies are invited each time to participate in a business accelerator program. The companies are offered a place to work and access to expertise for a period of ten weeks. Selected companies or ideas receive approx. $ 40,000 each from the SER sponsors. These companies are then given the chance to pitch their ideas to investors at the end of the program, thus increasing their chances of allowing their business ideas to grow and flourish.
The generation of energy and a large part of energy utilisation takes place outside the capital. There is no shortage of promising ideas in the more rural areas of Iceland and potential entrepreneurs need to be made aware of the opportunities SER has to offer. Therefore, a concerted effort was made to increase the number of SER applications from the rural areas of Iceland in 2016. This was done in cooperation with Landsvirkjun, KPMG, Innovation Center Iceland and the Iceland Geothermal Cluster.
Companies that have the opportunity to participate in the SER program are able to utilise their experiences and the advice they receive from experts in the business world and university environment in order to develop their business ideas. A number of companies that have participated in the SER program are still operating today and some of them have secured long-term financing. One of these companies is DT Equipment.
Sveinn Hinrik Guðmundsson and Karl Ágúst Matthíasson founded DT Equipment (DTE) in 2013. DTE is a good example of a company that utilised the SER program to develop a product from the idea stage and subsequently put it on the market. The company has achieved good results via its consultancy services and currently has six full-time employees focusing on technical development.
The results from traditional laboratory techniques, used to conduct a chemical analysis of aluminium in aluminium smelters, can only be obtained several hours after sampling takes place. DTE is developing instruments/equipment which can produce immediate results (on-site), saving both time and money.
Karl and Sveinn had discussed the idea for some time but were not able to realise the project until they joined the SER program. They saw an advertisement for SER 2014 and decided to apply. They have been able to focus entirely on developing their idea since completing the SER program in 2014.
In 2014, they were given the opportunity to concentrate their efforts on a business model and were able to utilise the technical knowledge, business connections and assistance offered by the many experts that support the SER participants. They received $ 40,000 of funding via the program and subsequently received $ 288,500 from the Icelandic Centre for Research (Rannis) as well as a grant from Innovation Center Iceland.
The Brunnur Ventures venture capital fund invested $1,100,000 in DTE in 2016. Today, DTE offers its consultancy services to Icelandic industry as well as continuing work on completing a prototype of the analysis instrument/equipment. Testing on the prototype is expected to begin at the Nordural Aluminium Plant in the next few months and the equipment will subsequently be manufactured for widespread distribution.
Landsvirkjun’s geothermal power stations are located in the Northeast of Iceland. The new innovation partnership ‘Eimur’ was launched in 2016 to improve the efficient utilisation of energy and to increase the sustainability of communities within the area.
The innovation partnership and sponsors of the project include Landsvirkjun, Norðurorka (Utility Company), Húsavík Energy and an association of the municipalities in Northeast Iceland. The project will run for three years and the sponsors have made an initial contribution of 100 million ISK. The Iceland Geothermal Cluster and the Iceland Tourism Cluster are also members of the project
The core focus of Eimur is to increase the sustainability of communities, within the area, by improving the efficient utilisation of energy and through increased expertise on the interaction between society, the environment, natural resources and the economy. It is hoped that the project will lay the foundation for diverse innovation and subsequently create employment opportunities in the area. The project aims to secure the cooperation of the tourism industry, all types of manufacturing, industry and researchers (including researchers from the academic community). The expectation is that the project will create investment opportunities for companies within the region, investment funds and other investors, both domestic and foreign.
Many of the most frequented tourist destinations in the country are based around the by-products of energy generation. These include the Mývatn Nature Baths. The water that flows into the lagoon is in fact excess water from the Bjarnarflag Geothermal Power Station nearby and the chemical composition of the water makes it particularly suitable for bathing. The lagoon is man-made and the bottom is covered with sand and small stones.
The baths opened in 2004 and have since then welcomed an ever growing number of local and international tourists who have enjoyed the lagoon and steam baths, set in the unique surroundings of the Mývatn area and built directly on top of the geothermal area.
CHARGE was the first international conference to discuss brand management within the energy industry. Landsvirkjun was the main sponsor of the event which was held for the first time in Reykjavik in 2016. Two hundred and fifty business representatives from 27 countries attended the conference.
The traditional energy business environment has seen major changes in the last few decades; the opening and unbundling of the electricity market, technological innovation, general awareness and increased discussion on the production and utilisation of electricity.
The core focus of the conference was how innovation is surfacing in the form of new thinking and approaches to energy client satisfaction and how technical advances are enabling companies to connect with their clients.
Speakers included executives from some of the world’s largest energy companies, founders of new energy companies, marketing executives and leading experts in the field of brand management.
Landsvirkjun is involved in various research-based innovation and collaboration, as well as conducting its own research.
The results of the Landsvirkjun research projects are made accessible to the public and the Company also supports funding of energy-based research in the Icelandic community.
The Fund provides annual grants to support university students, research projects, institutions, companies and individuals involved in strengthening research within the field of energy and environmental studies.
The Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) is one of the largest energy-related innovation projects in Iceland. The project is an international research and development project and if successful, could create new opportunities in geothermal energy in Iceland and other geothermal areas in the world.
The goal of the project is to tap supercritical fluid from the geothermal system for utilisation and to assess the feasibility of drilling at such deep levels.
Scientists from Landsvirkjun are among those actively involved in the project and drilling has been carried out at Landsvirkjun’s geothermal power station in the Krafla area. Further information on the project can be found on Landsvirkjun’s website: www.landsvirkjun.com/researchdevelopment
Landsvirkjun has focused on cooperation with the academic community for many years in order to support increased expertise in the field of renewable energy. In 2013, Landsvirkjun, Reykjavik University and the University of Iceland joined forces to promote studies and research in geochemistry, electrical engineering and other fields related to renewable energy. Landsvirkjun is supporting the partnership by donating 80 million ISK to the two universities until 2018.
Landsvirkjun signed a cooperation agreement with the Institute of Economic Studies. The agreement was active from 2013-2016 and promoted research related to the commercial and economic aspects of energy production in order to increase expertise on its impact on the Icelandic economy.