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UEFA Euro 2016: how geothermal fuelled the football dreams of Iceland

Icelandic Football Team, March 2016 (source: KSÍ)
Alexander Richter 30 May 2016

Geothermally heated football fields helped build a new generation of footballers that now proudly represent the smallest nation ever to compete in the UEFA European Football Championships in France, June 10 to July 10, 2016.

Writing about football (so not “soccer” like in the U.S.) in the context of the upcoming UEFA Euro 2016 championship starting June 10, 2016 has a certain geothermal touch to it this year.

At a presentation at the COP21 meetings in Paris, the CEO of Icelandic HS Orka started a presentation with a video of some proud moments of the Men’s Icelandic National Football Team in the qualification for the European Championship to take place June 10 to July 10, 2016 in France. For a small nation of roughly 300,000 people, to send a national team to the biggest football event on the continent is a dream that nearly no one expected a few years ago. … and to be fair, the women’s National Football Team of Iceland has actually competed three times, a feat that the men still have to achieve.

In 1984, Iceland built its first geothermally heated football field in Reykjavik, in the Laugardalur area of the city. Since then new football fields across the country have been outfitted with geothermal heating. Football halls have been built and the new generation of footballers that will now proudly represent Iceland at UEFA Euro 2016, is the first generation of footballers that was able to train year round.

Today, there are 10 heated full-sized artificial grass fields with flood lighting, and 36 smaller heated ball fields at schools in Reykjavik.

So while the nine ways of how Iceland uses geothermal heating, recently presented in an article of Iceland Magazine (link below), the heating for football fields is likely the most important one for the competition ahead. “Iceland is the smallest nation ever to secure a spot in the European Championship!”

Oh and here some other ways of geothermal heating in Iceland:

  • Heating swimming pools
  • Heated beach in Reykjavik
  • Power/ heating for greenhouses
  • Heating potato fields
  • Keeping sidewalks and parking lots free of ice
  • Drying seaweed
  • … and cod heads
  • Powering data centres

Source: Iceland Magazine