Interview on the Icelandic Geothermal Cluster & Conference, March 5-8, 2013

Blue Lagoon, Iceland (source: flickr/ Bods, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 5 Dec 2012

Interview with the organizers of the Iceland Geothermal Conference in March 2013, on the status on the Iceland Geothermal Cluster, a cooperation of around 80 geothermal companies in Iceland.

For the upcoming Icelandic Geothermal Conference to take place in March 2013, I had the chance to sit down with Rosbjörg Jónsdóttir of Gekon, who is the lead organizer for the conference.

The Iceland Geothermal Conference to take place in March 2013 is organized by the group of companies involved in the Iceland Geothermal Cluster. Could you maybe describe a little what the “Cluster Work” is about and how the conference fits into this work.

The Icelandic Geothermal Cluster Initiative (IGCI) is over 3 years old. Its origin can be stated back to 2005 when Hákon Gunnarsson, the founder of Gekon, a consultancy – now currently the cluster manager for the IGCI – was collaborating with professor Michael Porter, a world known Harvard professor and his principal associate Christian Ketels while they were doing a research on Iceland´s competitiveness. They warned Icelanders at the time – but when the financial system collapsed in 2008 it was the idea of Professor Michael Porter himself to do the mapping of the geothermal cluster in Iceland. Him self being an engineer and a strategist of a large scale was convinced that Iceland has a huge competitive advantage in this field. He is also certain that the geothermal cluster can be a catalyst or a role model for other industries for the economy in Iceland to get back on its feet again.

The past few years have been difficult for the Icelandic geothermal sector, with little to no development in the country. How has this affected the Icelandic geothermal companies and the sector in general?

This has been hard times for geothermal in Iceland – just like every other industry after our setback since 2008. But in geothermal there are huge opportunities in both knowledge and services in the industry that are being watched by Icelandic companies. I would not talk about „no development“ in Iceland. There are explorations and research work much more than some think.

The positive thing is that there are several projects in the pipes here in Iceland in near future.

What international activities of Icelandic players stick out and are good examples for Icelandic expertise at work internationally?

Icelanders work abroad a lot in geothermal. Mannvit is in Hungary in direct utilization in direct heating. Verkís is in China, Efla is in Turkey, Iceland Drilling is in New Zealand and ISOR in Chile, Reykjavik Geothermal in Africa. And I could continue. Everything points to the fact that these activities are growing. Iceland has a great experience and good image in this sector and we are working a lot with Icelandic companies to spot opportunities. Not only in projects but also in exporting knowledge and services.

The conference is likely to be a good showcase for Icelandic geothermal know-how and experience, but what else can companies expect from the event?

Yes, you are right this event will be a good show case and first of all for the geothermal in general. The participants will get a first hand experience of how the geothermal are utilized here in Iceland and learn about the interesting development etc.

I want to point out the IGC 2013 is an international event, were the attendees are able to meet with the high experienced professionals coming from all around the world ( over 20 nationalities) and this will help us to increase awareness of the importance of geothermal as energy resource. One of the reason why you attend an event like this is to increase your ability and become stronger on the competitive market.

It is important to give delegates as good options as possible to learn and increase its knowledge in geothermal, strengthen their network and give them opportunities to build up new business relationship. To manage to fulfill this we are organizing exhibition show case running parallel to the conference, we are including a field trip into the program and also operating a brokerage event as well.

So we guarantee that our delegates will get as many opportunity to network and mingle and additional all venues etc are in one or another way connected with geothermal actions.

All detailed information about this event can be seen at the event homepage – and the early bird offer is available until end of the week, or until Dec 7th.

The Icelandic Geothermal Cluster project is now going into its fourth year, what has been accomplished and what are the next steps?

Yes, we are now starting our 4th year, which is incredible. We have witnessed more and more awareness towards the Cluster Cooperation and now we have grown to an organisations of over 80 members. What we have achieved is that we are – I think – a platform for progress and innovation within the industry. We have already accomplished through our work to improve the infrastructure in the industry on various fields. Innovation projects, education, branding and we could continue. We wake up every morning with new challenges to deal with. And also – we have been eye opener for other industries as well and that is very motivating as well.

Website of the Iceland Geothermal Cluster

Website of the Iceland Geothermal Conference, March 5-8, 2013

Oh and if you need an additional reason to come to Iceland, the Blue Lagoon should be reason enough.