Dear Colleagues and friends of geothermal utilization,
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to say a few words at the closing of this kick-off event for the World Geothermal Congress that was scheduled to take place in Iceland about a year ago. I am glad to see that the organizers are not giving up on organizing this important congress despite the pandemic, including virtual sessions from April through July and an on-site three-day session in Reykjavík in October.
Iceland has for a long time been on the forefront of geothermal development and utilization, both nationally and internationally. Our efforts at home have revolutionized the quality of life for Icelanders, both economically, socially, climate-wise - and even culturally.
Internationally, Iceland and Icelandic scientists and engineers have contributed to the utilization of geothermal resources, both through direct participation in projects abroad and through the GRÓ Geothermal Training Program. Hundreds of foreign students and scientists have enjoyed training in geothermal utilization through this program in Iceland. Many of them are now using their competence at home to utilize geothermal resources.
Our long-standing training program and growing participation of Icelandic companies and experts in projects abroad is in my view a true contribution to fighting climate change globally. A good example of that is our cooperation with countries in Africa, both in training and geothermal exploration. An Icelandic developer is now taking part in Africa in developing the two largest geothermal power projects in Ethiopia.
Another example to mention is that Iceland played a large role in bringing geothermal district heating to China. An Icelandic company supported by Icelandic expertise and cooperation between the Chinese and Icelandic Governments, has been a driving force in a joint venture in China that has become the largest geothermal district heating company in the world, supporting ambitious Chinese climate policies and contributing to smog-free cities and climate-neutral urban development in China.
In Iceland, geothermal energy is more than district heating and power generation. The nexus between food and geothermal energy is a very relevant subject when discussing direct use. Early on, mostly used in agriculture for heating greenhouses, later for drying fish products that used to be dried by hanging outdoors in stock racks and finally in land-based aquaculture when commercially rearing fish.
I believe there is great potential for developing countries in harnessing geothermal resources to enhance food security. I have therefore called for an increased focus on green investment in direct geothermal use to increase food production, and to minimize food waste.
On a final note, I sincerely hope you will all be able to attend in person the final part of the World Geothermal Congress, the 3-day conference and exhibition in the capital of Iceland, Reykjavík. Then you would also be able to see for yourself how we have utilized the geothermal resources we are blessed with in Iceland and how we are utilizing them in different ways.
I wish you all possible success and look very much forward to receiving you all in Reykjavík for the final sessions.
Ávarpið flutti ráðherra á heimsráðstefnu Alþjóðajarðhitasambandsins (e. World Geothermal Congress, WGC) 30. mars 2021