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Reykjavik's major sustainable action priorities
Leading sustainability strategies of Reykjavik
Green City Times has identified a few of the top sustainability solutions implemented by the city of Reykjavik, Iceland. As cities try to reduce their carbon footprint worldwide, Reykjavik continues to set a leading example for what it means to be a green world city - particularly with regard to renewable energy. It is important to note that many cities around the world have at least a couple sources of readily available renewable energy from the natural resources that are present in their specific region - be that solar, wind, hydroelectric, and/or geothermal. It must also be noted that Iceland has more plentiful natural geothermal and hydroelectric resources than most other cities in the world, thereby offering abundant options to Reykjavik for renewable energy.
Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is a relatively small city with a population of about 125,000 people. Roughly 1/3 of the population of Iceland live in Reykjavik, while over 1/2 of the population of Iceland live in the Greater Capital region of the country (the area in and around Reykjavik).
Iceland is home to glaciers, glacial rivers, volcanoes (mostly dormant, and some active), hot springs, geysers, and underwater volcanoes. This region of the mid-Atlantic ridge has frequent active seismic activity to this day. This does present Reykjavik with unique opportunities to create renewable energy from the abundant natural geothermal and hydroelectric resources on and surrounding Iceland.
Here are the Green City Solutions Reykjavik best exemplifies:
- Renewable Energy - Reykjavik produces enough renewable energy to supply power to all of the residents of the city in a clean, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective manner. Hydropower is prominent in Reykjavik's energy mix, as far as the energy to produce electricity (75% of Reykjavik's electricity is hydroelectricity sourced from hydroelectric dams built on glacial rivers, and the rest of Reykjavik's electricity is sourced mostly from geothermal power plants, although other sources of renewable energy are also used).
- Most of the renewable energy for heating of buildings produced in Reykjavik is geothermal energy, making use of Iceland's abundant hot springs, geysers, and other sources of heat and steam that are created from underground thermal activity. Volcanoes produce magma which heats rocks and underground aquifers. This hot water is then released through hot springs, geysers, steam vents, underwater hydrothermal vents, and mud pots. These natural formations become sources of geothermal energy for the city.
- Renewable energy production also presents a great boost to the local economy of Reykjavik.
Please also see: geothermal district heating in Iceland
- A Municipal Plan; including environmental conservation and a land-use plan; prioritizing green spaces and sustainable public transit - The City of Reykjavik has developed a Municipal Plan for sustainable development to 2030. The Reykjavik Municipal Plan 2010-2030 includes: a Sustainable Planning Policy, a plan to maintain Reykjavik as an internationally leading green city, details for the Planning of City Districts, a Neighborhood Plan, and an Environmental Impact Assessment. Implementation of a climate action plan to reduce GHGs citywide, and a strategy for further development of green building and sustainable public transit, are also in Reykjavik’s Municipal Plan. The following quote is from an article about Reykjavik's Municipal Plan published by Reuters:
The Icelandic capital of Reykjavik is aiming to become carbon neutral by 2040 by imposing strict limits on urban sprawl and improving the efficiency of public transport, according to [the Reykjavik City Municipal Plan] unveiled by the city’s mayor.
The plan includes several measures to achieve the target, with promises to mandate the green emphasis in all of the city’s operations. For example, one goal is to ensure all vehicles in the City of Reykjavik are powered by green energy by 2040, including both public and private transportation.
The city’s public transport system stands in line for significant restructuring in order to increase the number of people using it to 12 percent from four percent by 2030. - quote from - reuters.com/iceland-capital-carbon/reykjavik-unveils-plan-to-become-carbon-neutral-by-2040
Click here>>> For the full Reykjavik Municipal Plan
- Renewable Energy R&D - Reykjavik is a global center for renewable energy research through programs like the GREEN program; and is the world's brightest example of renewable energy generation and its uses. Chief among the innovative uses of renewable energy that Reykjavik represents is providing geothermal district heating for the city. Reykjavik is also home to the Iceland School of Energy, offering a Masters of Science in Sustainable Energy; where students visit renewable energy facilities as part of the curriculum.
Much of the reason that Iceland leads the world in renewable energy and geothermal heating is due to renewable energy sourced from the unique topography of the country. Iceland has abundant natural geothermal resources such as (around 600) hot springs, geysers, and other geothermal hot water sources generated by geothermal heat from (mostly dormant) volcanoes.
Also see our article on GEOTHERMAL ENERGY