Primary energy use

hengill_nesjavellirPrimary energy use in Iceland

Primary energy use by Iceland has increased by large amounts in the last few decades. The primary energy use in 2010 was approximately 750 GJ per capita, which is among the largest that is found in the world. The predominant reason for this is the large proportion of large industries in the use of electricity. Additional reasons are the relatively large proportion of electricity production from geothermal, heavy energy use by the fishing fleet and for transportation, and more need for energy for house-heating due to cold climatic conditions. Around 15% of the primary energy used in Iceland is imported, and 85% is produced domestically. The proportions of energy types in the primary energy have changed over time, and in the sub-section on the origin of energy the development of the use is shown from 1940. 

Main sources of energy

The main sources of energy are Hydropower, geothermal, oil and coal. Until the middle of the last century peat was used, but its proportion of the primary energy use was minimal. Coal was the largest relative component of primary energy use through the end of the second world war, after which the use of coal decreased due to increased oil use for herring processing and increased use of geothermal for house-heating. The use of coal has increased since the late seventies, mostly due to industrial usage in the production of ferrosilicon.

The largest component of energy use at present is geothermal and this is larger than the combined proportion of all the other energy types together. The use of geothermal has increased by fast paces, both in the seventies as a result of increased use for house-heating and over the last decade due to increased use for the generation of electricity.

Calculation of primary energy

Usually it is required to transform primary energy into a form that is better suited for final use, such as electricity. During this transformation a part of the energy is lost, and there are also losses during transport and distribution of energy. Thus only a part of the primary energy is useful energy for the end-user. Primary energy utilisation is estimated based on data on energy utilisation using standardised methods from various international agencies. When electricity is produced using hydropower, the primary energy is the same as the electricity production. The primary energy of geothermal is defined as the energy that is released from geothermal fluid as it passes from an initial thermodynamic state to a reference state, which is taken to be 15°C and 1 bara.