The Challenge of Transport
Iceland has a “green grid” – a green power supply. Almost all electricity is produced fossil-free. The geological conditions are excellent here for this. Due to the existing hot springs, the supply of power has been based on geothermal heat for a long time. Almost all the houses and buildings are heated by the warm water which is virtually taken out of the hot magma.
The great challenge of a 100% fossil-free electricity and heat production – many countries are just getting started – has already been accomplished here. There is though still the question of transport – for the “Dagmar Aaen” as well. Following a rough crossing from the Faroe Islands, the ship and its crew are now in Seydisfjördur on the east coast of Iceland. Strong westerly winds made a direct passage to Reykjavik impossible. We, however, did not want to miss out on the interesting project visits on this island full of energy. So, Frauke and Tobias took the overland bus right across the island to the capitol to meet up with Lauren who is joining the crew here on Iceland.
Through Sigga, our Icelandic crewmember, we got into contact with Jon Björn Skulason. 100% fossil-free transport by 2050 - that is the goal of his organization “Icelandic New Energy”
(http://www.newenergy.is/?lang=en). How is this possible? A good mix: improved public transport, electro mobility, methanol and hydrogen-based fuels. Percentage-wise, Iceland is the country with the highest number of e-cars. Some employers have even installed charging stations right at the workplace and we noticed, during our bus trip, the orange-colored power stations for cars. There are other options for trucks and the big Icelandic fishing fleet.
One option is methanol. We see how this is produced the next day at the George Olah Renewable Methanol Plant (http://carbonrecycling.is/george-olah/) in Svartsengi, not far from the Blue Lagoon, which is well-known worldwide. Omar Sigurbjörnsson from Carbon Recycling International explained the process to us: First hydrogen is produced using the electrolyzers which are found in the water everywhere here. Electricity is necessary for this process and this comes from the nearby geothermal power plant. CO2 is then added. This is filtered out of the steam from the geothermal power plant. The result is methanol. Omar prefers the term “Vulcanol”. The name stands for where the energy comes from and is not mistaken for methanol which often has a coal or natural gas source. Could we use this for the old callesen on board the “Dagmar Aaen”.
Vulcanol/methanol is practical because it can be used like petrol and does not need a completely new infrastructure. It is still more expensive than fossil fuel. Additional incentives will be necessary to convince the fishermen to change over. But they will come – both through politics and through the consumers. A fish caught with green fuel is more valuable and surely tastes twice as good.