Utilization of geothermal energy on behalf of environment protection

Iceland itself is a volcanic island, having enormous geothermal fields, which are great energy resource and popular tourist destination.

Iceland is the only country where 100% of electricity is provided by renewable energy resources. 87% is provided by water energy, 13% by geothermal energy. Of course, it wasn’t always so, previously a large amount of coal, later gas, was imported to satisfy the needs of the country. However, by discovering the possibilities of utilizating geothermal energy, the country gradually managed to reduce the carbon-dioxide emission.

Nowadays, numerous geothermal power-station works in the country, providing the heat, warm water and electricity. The biggest warm water generator is Hitaveita Suðurnesja. The 243°C-warm-water is released from 200m deep. The power-station provides workplace for 17000 people, and satisfies the needs of warm water and heat for 45000 residents.

Utilization of geothermal energy often makes Iceland come into people’s mind. It is interesting, however, that in Europe (leastwise relating to the total amount of power generation) Italy is the leader of this area. According to some data of 2007, in Italy 5200 gigawatt hours of electricity is produced by geothermal energy a year, while this number is “only” 1483 gigawatt hours in Iceland. At the third place is Turkey, producing 108 gigawatt hours a years.

However, if we take a look at the proportions, we may see a totally different result. In Iceland, 26% of the electricity needs of the country was provided by geothermal energy, while in Italy it is 2%. But Iceland shouldn’t be compared to any Europian country as it has such unique volcanic facilities.

In 2010, the Hungarian government negotiated about the Renewable energy Resources Action Plan and validated it. The most important task of the action plan was to assign the principles, acting directions and actions, that might make Hungary to reach the target value of 13%, specified by European Union relating to energy resources utilization, by 2020. However, in the action plan, the Hungarian government predetermined such actions that might make Hungary reach a more ambitious target value of 14, 65%. According to this commitment, Hungary may get to the lower part of middle-rank from the last places.

Iceland is the most active volcanic area of the North Atlantic Ridge. Numerous volcanos, volcanic eruptions and post-volcanic processes enrich the activity of the island. The geothermal heat capacity of the island nation was 1,85 GW in 2010, the thermal power was 6,8 TWh/year. The high enthalpy systems (>200-250°C) enable the safe and cheap electricity production attracting the industries with high energy needs (like aluminium industry) to the island. At the next heat level, the public and private buildings are heated and parkings are demisted. We can find less examples for agricultural utilization, although greenhouses are not widely prevalent, the existing ones are all heated by geothermal energy. This part of energy utilization - growing vegetables, fruit and ornamentals - is still waiting for be exploit.