We Must Act Now!

Hörður Arnarson, CEO Landsvirkjun and Kristín Linda Árnadóttir, Deputy CEO Landsvirkjun

Each tonne of carbon dioxide, which is emitted into the atmosphere, increases global warming.

This simple fact can be found in the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), newly published by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). The report paints the bleakest picture to date. The authors‘ conclusion is that we must take decisive steps immediately to avert disaster.

We do still have the possibility to change the course; however, time is running out. We can turn this unfortunate development around if we manage to decrease carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emissions. The first and the most obvious sign of recovery would obviously be better air quality, but Earth‘s temperature will need 20 to 30 years to reach equilibrium. Everyone must join forces: governments, businesses and individuals.

This task certainly presents a challenge, as greenhouse gases emissions are intertwined with our economic system. On the other hand, few countries are in as strong a position as Iceland with all its renewable energy. We must increase the share of renewable energy and eliminate usage of petrol and oil. This goal can be realistically met for 2050, in accordance with the Icelandic government‘s declaration, and even sooner. We must also be careful to balance the economic value and the impact on the environment and society. We have absolutely no reason to be discouraged although the task at hand is of mammoth size, but it is of course inevitable that more green energy must be harnessed if we are to meet our goals on climate issues for the years 2030 and 2040, not to mention eliminating petrol and oil in 2050. We must reach a concensus on the source of our green energy and how it is to be produced, for our wellbeing as a nation, and as a part of an international solution to climate issues.

Multiplication in Neighbouring Countries

Our neighbours in the Nordic countries and on the continent have certainly made their mark in the recent years, and the progress continues. Renewable energy production on the continent is projected to rise by sixfold by 2050. In Sweden, Norway and Denmark the development of wind energy continues with incredible force. In 2030 the total wind energy production in the other Nordic countries will amount to more than four times that of Iceland‘s present energy production. These countries are steadfast in their contribution to the revolution which is necessary for an improved and climate healthy world that is based on green energy. Iceland‘s contribution does not have to be inferior.

Petrol or Universities?

Landsvirkjun has commenced preparations for electric fuel production. Green fuel must replace fossil fuels. In 2018, 680.000 tonnes of petrol and diesel was imported to Iceland for domestic transport. The cost of these purchases was ISK 50 billion, or the same annual amount of expenditure by the Treasury for the public universities in the country. Even worse: the use of these fossil fuels emitted 1.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We can completely avert this emission and that should be our goal.

Food for the Future

Increased production of renewable, green energy creates numerous opportunities in food production. This largest industry in the world uses 37% of all arable land and 70% of fresh water usage. Food production has reached certain limits on a global scale and the environmental footprint of the food production system is enormous – not only when it comes to greenhouse gases, but also the impact it has on Earth‘s biota. Food production will be controlled in high technology environment in the future. Iceland can provide the ideal conditions for sustainable food production, with export in mind just as the fishing industry, as the domestic market is too small to be economically feasible.

Green Data Centres

Another industry of the future is the data centres. In a world of modern- and future technology the need for data centres increases daily. Iceland offers 100% green and renewable energy for data centres, in addition to needing less energy than elsewhere due to the cold climate. Vast opportunities are in selling energy for the green operations of data centres, thus receiving a healthy return from the energy resources.

Green Batteries

Inevitably, the demand for batteries has increased vastly during the rapid electric vehicle adoption. The carbon dioxide emissions that are averted by the energy switch are vital for the environment, but of course it is also important that production of the batteries is green. The contribution to the environment increases as the production is more environmentally sound. Production of batteries in Iceland would unreservedly be green, simultaneously creating a new industry, new jobs, and the country would yet again reap a healthy return of its natural resources.

Realistic Goals

We at Landsvirkjun have set ambitious goals for the Company, but we know from experience that these goals are realistic. We have doubled electrical energy production from 2005, but at the same time direct emissions of greenhouse gases per energy unit has decreased by 67%, and the carbon footprint is now lower by 65%. This reduction can be traced to decreased emissions and increased soil-binding and revegetation. From the beginning of its operations in the ´60s, Landsvirkjun has supported revegetation on a large scale. We honour that role and will continue to do so for an unforseeable future.

We know what must be done. To begin with we must increase renewable energy production. Secondly, we must place importance on innovation in production, as new times demand new methods. And thirdly, we must capture carbon dioxide that inevitably is emitted and make use of it or dispose of it.

Iceland is a country of renewable energy, and we have every means to eliminate fossil fuels, thus contribute to a new world. Landsvirkjun, the National Power Company, intends to be in the forefront of that progress. And we must act now.