Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson, gave today's opening speech at the Iceland Geothermal Conference, held in Reykjavik. The Minister discussed how Iceland had, only a generation ago, come to realize the potential of the energy beneath their feet; going from being as dependent on oil and gas as any other western nation, - to being able to meet 80% of the energy needs from clean, green renewables.
„Geothermal is not going to save the planet – alone. But I dare say it will be a part of the solution. I know I am preaching to the converts, but I maintain that still today, geothermal is an under-estimated and under-valued source of energy“, said Minister Skarphéðinsson.
He stressed that nations like Iceland, that have experience and breaking edge-technology also have a duty to share their experience to other aspiring geothermal nations, not least in the developing world. In Iceland this has been done through the Geothermal Training Program, that Iceland funds, and runs, under the auspices of the United Nations University.
During the last 30 years more than 700 geothermal experts have graduated from the program, from over 40 countries.
Minister Skarphéðinsson said that the current Icelandic government placed much emphasis on strengthening the cooperation with other states and multilateral institutions in the field of geothermal energy. He welcomed the World Bank commitment increase the utilization of geothermal energy in the African Rift Valley.
Dr. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director of the World Bank Group and former Minister of Finance of Indonesia, was a keynote speaker at the conference. She formally announced that the World Bank is launching a Global Geothermal Development Plan with the goal to mobilize $500 million in concessional finance from bilateral and multilateral partners for about a dozen test drilling investments around the world where studies show likely strong potential. This is the largest initiative so far for promoting the utilisation of geothermal energy in developing countries, and has positioned Iceland as the Bank´s key partner in this field.
Many of the world‘s leading scientists on geothermal issues, from more than 40 countries, are attending the conference, focusing on three main topics, geothermal exploration, realization and utilization. The conference is organized by the Icelandic Geothermal Cluster and sponsored by the Foreign Ministry in cooperation with Icelandic companies.
Günter Oettinger, Commissioner for Energy in the European Commission will also attend the conference at the invitation of the Foreign Minister and deliver a keynote speech at the closing session.
A press release from the World Bank on the geothermal global initiative