Iceland’s Geothermal Focus
He went on to note how the world’s population is living on a very thin layer of the earth, and engineers and scientists are developing sophisticated technology to allow the energy of the molten “fireball” center of the planet to be harnessed for energy. “There is this big fireball under every country of the world, not just Iceland. We were not given exclusive rights to have this fireball under us. It is everywhere,” he concluded.
High-tech entrepreneurs are providing employment in Iceland for those engineers and scientists that Grimsson mentioned. Technology companies, even those with agricultural product concepts, are geothermal focused or dependent, if nothing other than using low-cost energy—heat and electricity.
AGRICULTURE HAS A PLACE
My recent Invest in Iceland agency-sponsored media trip showed how agriculture-related, high-tech industries could locate on the island at a lower cost than in the U.S. or other countries of the world. The proof was companies already successfully doing business on the island without concern of seismic disaster, which is a wholly unjustified concern, according to history of the last century.
Rich KellerHafberg Thorisson, greenhouse owner, checks greenhouse operations on a computer terminal. The eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010 spread ash across Europe, but it had little impact on Iceland itself. Prevailing winds sent the ash away from the island, and the international airport was only closed one day whereas European airports were closed for much longer. Activity on Iceland was business as normal. In degree of volcanic activity, it was not a big eruption, and scientists point out that earthquake activity is not severe because the earth’s crust-plate boundaries are not jamming together but moving apart. The island is subtly stretching between two to four centimeters per year.
Greenhouse production is a main agriculture focus on the island; field crop production is quite limited because of the short growing season, summer high temperatures in the 60s and limited production soils. Enticement of a large-scale tomato grower to build huge greenhouses near one of the country’s geothermal electric power plants is nearing realization. The president proudly had samples of greenhouse-grown tomatoes served to his journalist guests to prove the taste.
Rich KellerIceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson took time to have his photo taken with AgProfessional Editor Rich Keller. A greenhouse operation growing genetically modified (GM) barley for extraction of specific proteins is an example of a entrepreneurial company started by geneticists with a plant biology background. The scientists that founded Orf Genetics developed a way to alter barley to produce various proteins in the barley seed harvested at the end of a 2 ½ to three month greenhouse growing season.