Icelandic Ambassador Says Japan Could Replace 25 Nuclear Plants Using Geothermal Energy

15 December 2012: Stefan Stefansson, Ambassador of Iceland to Japan, delivered a lecture at the UN University (UNU) in Tokyo, Japan, as part of the UNU's Ambassador Lecture Series, recommending that Japan harness its untapped geothermal energy resources to minimize carbon dioxide emissions, lower heating bills and create jobs. 

Noting that Japan has the third largest geothermal energy potential in the world, Ambassador Stefansson emphasized “the potential for geothermal energy is only limited by people's imagination” and urged Japan to transition from nuclear to geothermal energy. He said “nuclear isn't a domestic political issue. If something goes wrong, it turns into an international issue.” As an example, he referenced the Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disasters and noted how far the resulting radiation traveled. Ambassador Stefansson said Japan could replace 25 nuclear reactors by developing its geothermal resources.

Iceland generates 66 percent of its primary energy from geothermal resources and uses geothermal hot water to heat 92 percent of its houses, according to Ambassador Stefansson. As a result, Iceland has the lowest heating prices in Northern Europe. Further, Japan manufactures the majority of geothermal turbines used in Iceland; if Japan and other countries embraced geothermal energy, Japan would have an increased market for its turbine technology, would create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with heating.

Ambassador Stefansson responded to questions on drawbacks of geothermal energy and geothermal energy in national parks. He highlighted Iceland's Blue Lagoon, a hot springs resort created by geothermal power from a nearby plant. He noted several uses and applications of geothermal energy such as greenhouse cultivation, fish farming and medical and cosmetic purposes. Ambassador Stefansson concluded by urging governments to take responsibility for the planet and its population by harnessing untapped geothermal energy.  [UNU Story]