Geothermal Areas "Overused", Unsustainable - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Geothermal Areas “Overused”, Unsustainable

Published August 21, 2015

Photos by
Sarah Pepin

A geologist and a physicist say that some geothermal regions in southwest Iceland are being overused, rendering the practice ultimately unsustainable.

Gunnlaugur H. Jónsson, a professor of physics and a former employee of the National Energy Authority, told RÚV that two areas – Hengilssvæðið and Reykjanesskagann – are being overused for geothermal power. The search for new high-pressure vents has prompted the drilling of a new vent once a year. At this rate, the resource is rendered unsustainable.

Geologist Stefán Arnórsson agrees, adding that the pressure coming out of the vents has been steadily decreasing. Part of the problem has been planning, in that large power plants were built first in the area, instead of employing the more sustainable practice of building small power plants first, and building up from there.

Stefán recommends that using the geothermal energy in the area should put providing hot water for heating homes over creating electricity.

“It cannot be forgotten that geothermal energy is not a renewable energy source in any sense,” he said. “It is finite.”

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