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Large contribution by Iceland to savings in emission of carbon dioxide by using renewable energy

8.12.2015

Policy making in Iceland over the past century has resulted in the savings of 350 million tons in CO2 emissions and could reach 50 million tons of CO2 in savings annually through a policy of ecological utilisation, which in six years is equivalent to the annual emissions of France, with a population of 66 million people.

Last year the annual savings in CO2 emissions by using renewable energy instead of oil amounted to 18 million tons, there of 58% with hydro power, 24% with district heating and 18% with geothermal power. For comparison the total anthropogenic emissions of CO2 in Iceland were 3.5 tons of CO2. The emissions would thus have been 21.5 million tons if Iceland used oil instead and even higher with coal.

The cumulative savings amount to nearly 350 million tons of CO2 from 1914 through 2014, thereof 59% with hydro power and 41% with district heating and geothermal power as can be seen in the Figure.

Orkustofnun has evaluated over 80 power plant options for the 3rd phase of the Master Plan. Iceland could triple the savings if Icelandic authorities decide to utilise all of those options resulting in savings of 50 million tons of CO2 emissions by using domestic low-emission, renewable energy instead of fossil fuels.

In comparison, France emits 320 million tons of CO2 annually, and thus, Iceland could save CO2 emissions equivalent to the annual emission of France in six years, keeping in mind that the population of France is 66 million. Such gains are possible with global thinking and low-emission, renewable utilisation policy, by placing energy-intensive industries in places with available green energy instead of areas where e.g. coal is used for the production of electricity. Orkustofnun stresses that the CO2 savings do not come without sacrifice or effects on the environment. Nevertheless, Iceland can successfully reduce CO2 emission globally, with strong emphasis on counter-measures and environmental protection. It may thus be considered whether protesting low-emission, renewable energy production possibilities is in sync with 21st century environmentalism.

 The data of Orkustofnun is available in the Data Repository of Orkustofnun (Table OS-2015-T008-01).

 A printable version of Table OS-2015-T008-01 is also available.