Strengthening innovation and use in relation to geothermal heat

Landsvirkjun – National Power Company of Iceland, Norðurorka – Utility Company, Húsavík Energy and Eyþing – regional association for Eyjafjörður and Þingeyjarsýsla are the parties behind EIMUR, which places an emphasis on improved utilisation of energy resources and increased innovation in energy affairs in Northeast Iceland. EIMUR also works extensively with the Iceland Geothermal Cluster and Iceland Tourism. “Innovation is important at EIMUR and the signature theme of the project is to make better use of existing resources,” says Snæbjörn Sigurðarson, CEO of EIMUR. “The fundamental points are sustainability, innovation and collaboration. EIMUR is first and foremost a platform for new ideas that enables them to develop and expand. This is a collaborative project designed to strengthen innovation and awareness in Northeast Iceland in relation to geothermal heat and other resources in the area. It is an extensive project and the possibilities are so numerous that the problem often lies in finding those projects that are most likely to become a reality and following through on them. This is a luxury problem of sorts.”

Snæbjörn says that competitions organised by EIMUR have drawn the most attention to the project. “EIMUR, in cooperation with Íslensk verðbréf [Icelandic Securities] and Vaðlaheiðargöng hf [Vaðlaheiði Tunnel], organised an idea competition in March of 2017 concerning the use of low-temperature water in Northeast Iceland. Quite a few ideas were submitted and one of them will hopefully become a reality; we will soon find out more. The idea revolves around building geothermal bath caves by the seashore under the tunnel at Eyjafjörður. This is an example of a project that could be realised with the assistance of EIMUR.” A competition is currently underway which is titled “Gerum okkur mat úr jarðhitanum”, a competition for ideas on food production using geothermal warmth in Northeast Iceland, and participants in that collaboration are Íslensk Verðbréf [Icelandic Securities], Matarauður Íslands [Iceland’s Culinary Treasures] and Innovation Center Iceland. The ideas should contribute to sustainable use of resources in Northeast Iceland and they can be at any level and can consist of everything from production of ingredients to fully-processed food products.

“This autumn, we are going to organise a conference in Northeast Iceland where geothermal heat will be the main theme; a comparable conference to that which was held last year.”

EIMUR is a temporary project that will come to a close at the midpoint of next year. “It is, however, hoped that EIMUR can participate in or organise long-term projects related to innovation and research. This could be connected to the development of a geopark in Northeast Iceland with an emphasis on geothermal heat and multi-use of energy resources.

A large project is being planned, titled Krafla Magma Testbed, which EIMUR might possibly participate in. At its core, the project is about drilling down to the magma under the Krafla area for research purposes. We are also working on drawing attention to Northeast Iceland as a resource-rich area, especially as regards geothermal heat. This then is about drawing the attention of tourists to how the water and electricity they use is renewable, green energy. The same applies to those who live here – it is important to remind people that these resources should not be taken for granted. We need to look after the resources and make use of them in a sustainable manner.”

Photographs: Hreinn Hjartarson and Gaukur Hjartarson.