The Land of Ice and Heat

The Land of Ice and Heat

Posted on 27 Mar 2024

“Geothermal energy, potentially the largest - and presently most misunderstood source of energy- Al Gore

Located between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean lies a captivating nation that is world renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, glaciers, volcanoes, geysers, and waterfalls. A land that is constantly being shaped by the forces of nature, with new geographic features emerging almost on a daily basis. 

Southwest Iceland was in the news recently as it experienced a fissure eruption on March 16, 2024, between Hagafell and Stóra Skógfell. This is the fourth eruption near the town of Grindavík since December. 

These volcanic eruptions can generate localized weather phenomena. The heat and moisture released can trigger intense thunderstorms, and even lead to the formation of short-lived volcanic lightning. While the immediate impacts are often the most dramatic, volcanoes also contribute to longer-term climate patterns. Emissions of greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide gradually warm the planet.

About Iceland:

Iceland has a unique cultural heritage that combines Norse traditions with modern Scandinavian influences. Often referred to as the "Land of Fire and Ice" due to its stunning contrasts between active volcanoes and glaciers. The capital city, Reykjavik, is a hub of art, culture, and innovation. The iconic landscape includes the famous Golden Circle route and the mesmerizing Blue Lagoon. Iceland is also renowned for its commitment to environmental conservation and renewable energy sources, making it a global leader in sustainable living. Iceland also boasts some of the cleanest and purest tap water in the world, thanks to its natural filtration through volcanic rock.

Due to its high latitude, Iceland experiences both the midnight sun during the summer months and polar nights during the winter. Iceland is also known for having some of the cleanest air in the world. Iceland’s Weather

Iceland's changeable climate is influenced by its location in the North Atlantic Ocean and closeness of the Gulf Stream that brings relatively mild winters and cool summers, as well as the passage of low-pressure systems. The climate can also vary depending on the location. The northern and eastern parts of the country are typically colder and drier than the southern and western parts. The interior of the country is also colder and drier than the coast.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is heat energy generated and stored by the decay of radioactive elements in the Earth's core. This heat is then transferred to the surrounding rocks and groundwater. In Iceland, the Earth's crust is relatively thin, which allows the heat from the Earth's core to reach the surface more easily.. It can be used to generate electricity, heat homes and businesses, and provide hot water for bathing and other purposes. Iceland has been using geothermal energy since the early 1900s, and today it accounts for over 60% of the country's primary energy consumption.

Although geothermal energy produces less than half a percent of the world’s energy, there five geothermal power plants located in Iceland that supply about a quarter of Iceland’s electricity use and two-thirds of its home heating. With over 200 volcanoes, Iceland also uses geothermal energy to heat its many greenhouses, which contribute to the country’s high levels of local food production.

There are two main types of geothermal energy: hydrothermal and dry steam. Hydrothermal energy is generated by hot water that is trapped underground. Dry steam energy is generated by steam that rises directly from the Earth's crust.

Iceland harnesses geothermal energy for a wide variety of applications, including electricity generation and district heating. The island's abundant volcanic activity and tectonic plate boundaries, have provided an ideal environment for the development of geothermal resources. 

Iceland's Geothermal Resources

Iceland has a variety of geothermal resources, including hot springs, mud pots, fumaroles, and geysers. The country also has several large geothermal reservoirs, which are used to generate electricity and provide heat for homes and businesses.

One of the most famous geothermal reservoirs in Iceland is the Hellisheidi Geothermal Field. This field is located about 30 kilometers from Reykjavik. The Hellisheidi Geothermal Field is used to generate electricity for over 100,000 homes and to provide heat for over 50,000 homes and businesses. The Hellisheidi geothermal power plant generates an impressive 303 MW of electricity and 400 MW of thermal energy.

The country's geothermal energy potential is estimated to be 35 gigawatts thermal (GWhth), making it one of the most geothermal-rich countries in the world.

One of the biggest challenges of managing geothermal energy is its variability. The amount of geothermal energy available can vary depending on factors such as volcanic activity, and the season. Weather forecasting can play a key role in helping to manage this variability.

How OpenWeather can help

By predicting weather conditions, geothermal power plants can adjust their operations to ensure that they are generating enough electricity to meet demand.

Iceland's geothermal power plants operate on a binary cycle, which is sensitive to changes in the temperature of the geothermal fluid. Weather forecasting allows plant operators to anticipate temperature variations, enabling them to adjust plant operations accordingly. For instance, when temperatures drop significantly, the power plants can be fine-tuned to maintain steady energy output. During exceptionally hot periods, the plants may need to reduce their output to prevent overheating. 

To understand and predict regional climate, our updated One Call API 3.0 can give daily aggregated weather data up to 43 years previously, as well as an incredible weather forecast aggregate for 1.5 years ahead. The same product can also be used by plant managers to manage overall power requirements by using the accurate and instant weather forecast data, with minute forecast granularity for one hour ahead, and daily forecast for 8 days ahead.. 

Volcanic whispers,

Iceland's weather shifts and roars,

Nature's dance unfolds.

About OpenWeather:

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OpenWeather cooperates with global meteorological agencies such as MetOffice and NOAA, and enhances its model with data from radars, weather stations and satellites. The company provides great availability of service at 99.9% for enterprise-level products. 

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