Sep 02 2007
The gates of a geothermal power station are not where you would expect to find environmental activists. But the morning of 26th July 2007 saw the access road to Hellisheidi power station in Hengill, South-West Iceland, blockaded by a group of protestors from the campaign group ‘Saving Iceland’. After a brief demonstration, nine activists were arrested and several now face legal action.
Geothermal power in Iceland is big business. Just five plants generate 3 TWh a year – more than the annual output from all the UK’s wind turbines combined (Orkustofnun 2005; BERR 2006). Geothermal power also provides at least 85 per cent of Iceland’s homes with heat and hot water. This abundance of cheap, largely CO2-free energy has attracted energy-hungry industries to the country like sharks to a carcass. Of these, by far the most energy intensive is the aluminium industry (Krater 2007; Saving Iceland 2007).