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Utilising geothermal resources to the fullest potential – the Geothermal Resource Park, Iceland

Screenshot of video of the Resource Park of HS Orka via Vimeo
Alexander Richter 23 Jan 2017

With a unique geothermal Resource Park, Icelandic energy company HS Orka has created a start-up hub around its geothermal operations, showcasing multiple use of geothermal resources while greatly supporting economic development and well being of the community.

A recent article in Icelandic publication Fréttatíminn, features the unique role of the Geothermal Resource Park of HS Orka on the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland and it being a possible role model for the utilisation of geothermal resources elsewhere.

Centered around the geothermal power plant of Svartsengi, the resource park developed over the years, showcases the unique role geothermal energy can play and how it can be utilised to the fullest potential. It represents a unique role model for other potential sites worldwide.

The Resource Park has been developed in the vicinity of HS Orka geothermal facilities on the Reykjanes Peninsula in the Southwest of Iceland not far from Reykjavik, the Capital of Iceland. With its unique model, the Resource Park is a showcase for a new thinking surrounding the utilisation of geothermal energy that encourages development and utilisation of the resources to its fullest potential. The Resource Park of HS Orka wants to raise awareness about the valuable resources that the company is entrusted with and its task to ensure that it will last for generations. “The multiple use of resources supports the responsible use of resources and contributes to the sustainable development of the society.”, says Kristín Vala Matthíasdóttir, the Director of the Resource Park at HS Orka. Kristín Vala is also a Board Member of the International Geothermal Association (IGA) and a member of WING.

The partnership that has been created between the employees of HS Orka and the companies within the park is unique and underscores the uniqueness of Icelandic geothermal energy. In normal geothermal plants there are only one or two ways the resource is being used, hot water for heating and the generation of electricity. “In Svartsengi and Reykjanes (the locations of the two geothermal power plants of the company) we are able to harvested seven resource streams resulting from the production of electricity and hot water. The resource is valuable and it is important that we use it with respect, care and common sense and don’t waste anything, “says Kristín Vala.

While the companies that are part of the Resource Park are quite different, there is much that they have in common. The companies of the Resource Park have mostly started as high-tech start-ups based on active science, research and development. “Now they each make use of two ore more resource flows from the geothermal plants of HS Orka and have therefore obviously made the area close to the geothermal plants in the region home of their operation.”

The operation of the Resource Park is based on the common business interest, e.g. by-products of one can be a resource for others, the proximity and close interdisciplinary cooperation of the companies.” Kristín Vala also points out the goal for the Resource Park of being a “Society without wasting”, that aims at utilise all resource streams flowing into and from the business park in a responsible manner, which supports sustainable community development.

The geothermal plants in the region in the Southwest of Iceland therefore provide a fantastic basis and “raw material” for diversified production opportunities. The activities of the Resource Park can be characterized by research, development and inovation and is a powerful tool contributing as a tool to the sustainable development of the community. A feature of the Resource Park is further to monitor and provide a platform for science and technology development effectively utilising the resource streams, and thereby creating a platform for a cooperation of companies from different sectors and with different backgrounds. The Resource Park is thereby dynamic and rapidly growing hub for entrepreneurship.

“An other characteristic of the Resource Park is that it is the only entrepreneurial cluster known to have been built around geothermal energy. The positive and wide impact of this cluster for the society has been confirmed by an economic analysis by Icelandic Advisory Gamma in a report in 2015. In 2016, there were nearly 900 year-round positions in and around the Resource Park, while the actual employees of HS Orka in its core activities are 60. The economic impact of the park are great for the area. Most of the companies in the Resource Park have one thing in common and this is that they sell products in one way or another abroad and therefore the majority of income from the activities are creating foreign currency income. The wages of people working for the companies in the Resource Park are typically 25% higher than elsewhere in the region, mostly due to the activities of the companies in the resource park”, says Kristín Vala.

“The companies in the Resource Park have in recent years played a major role in the economic development in this part of Iceland and created a large number of well-paid jobs for people with diverse educational backgrounds. The wide utilisation of the geothermal resources of the region directly supports development and economic growth of the community and we are proud of this development we have seen here on the Reykjanes Peninsula”, so Kristín Vala.

 

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Source: Frettatiminn (Iceland)