“steamland” – geothermal energy in iceland

“steamland” – geothermal energy in iceland

Iceland, August 2010.

Due to the unique geological location of Iceland, the high concentration of volcanoes in the area is often an advantage for generating geothermal energy, heating and electricity. 100% of Iceland’s electricity comes from clean sources and the government plans within 30 years to become the first country to abandon the use of fossil fuels.

Geothermal activity in the Hengill area is connected by three volcanic systems, which cover 112 square kilometers and form one of the most extensive geothermal areas in Iceland.

Geothermal energy is heat energy that occurs naturally in the earth, and is recovered from the earth’s core. In nature, geothermal heat shows up in the form of volcanoes, hot springs and geysers. When this energy is higher than 150°C/302°F, it is considered hot enough to be used to generate electricity and heat in Iceland.

Geothermal heat is one of Iceland’s greatest natural resources and is mostly used to heat fresh water which can be utilized directly for central heating. 89% of all homes in Iceland are heated this way, making central heating and warm water rather inexpensive. But the geothermal water is also used in many other ways, such as in swimming pools, greenhouses, for soil warming, fish farming, drying timber and wool, animal husbandry, etc.

People have used naturally occurring hot springs for bathing for thousands of years but using geothermal energy to generate electricity and to provide heat for homes and industries is a more recent development. It is a versatile and reliable source of heat and electricity which generally produces none of the greenhouse gases associated with the combustion of fossil fuels.

The Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater spa is a part of an eco-cycle where nature and science work in harmony. Geothermal seawater comes into contact with cooling magmatic intrusions and captures the earth’s minerals, resulting in this unique natural spring known for its healing power. The water’s temperature is 37-39°C/98-102°F. The lagoon holds six million liters of geothermal seawater, which is renewed every 40 hours.

The readers of Condé Nast Traveller voted Blue Lagoon as the best medical spa worldwide. For five consecutive years, Blue Lagoon has been awarded the Blue Flag environmental recognition for natural beaches and marinas.