Arnbjorn Olafsson

WE’VE LOST THE MONEY, BUT WE STILL HAVE THE ENERGY! SUSTAINABILITY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY IN ICELAND

RES - the School for Renewable Energy Science (a new private institution of higher learning) was established in the spring 2006. The RES Graduate School started in the February 2008 offering an intensive one-year M.Sc. Program in Renewable Energy Science. The Graduate Program is offered in cooperation with the University of Iceland and the University of Akureyri, as well as in partnership with a number of leading technical universities and institutions around the world.

Iceland’s Leadership in Renewable Energy

Iceland has much to offer when it comes to the increasingly important field of renewable energy science, technology, and renewable policy implementation. Over the last few decades a vast knowledge has built-up in Iceland in the utilization of geothermal (high and low-temperature) and hydropower resources and more recently in the production, storage, and demonstration of hydrogen as an energy carrier in the transportation sector. Increased emphasis on natural resource biotechnology in Iceland has also created knowledge in the production of methane, biodiesel, ethanol/methanol and hydrogen from waste or biomass.

During the course of the 20th century, Iceland changed from being among Europe’s poorest countries, dependent upon peat and imported coal for its energy, to a country with the world highest living standard (at least before October 2008), with practically all stationary energy and about 80% of the primary energy coming from indigenous renewable energy sources, the highest of any country.

In particular, Icelandic researchers and consultants are regarded as one of the world leading energy experts in assessing the energy-capacity potential of both high- and low-temperature geothermal fields, in exploration and drilling techniques, as well as in all other aspects of geothermal energy utilization. Icelandic researchers have coordinated and participated in a number of EU funded research projects dealing with alternative transportation fuels, and are now actively working on eliminating Iceland’s dependence on fossil fuels (currently 20% of primary energy) in the transportation sector and fishing. Therefore Iceland could well become the first nation in the world where 100% of primary energy consumption is coming from renewable energy sources.

The nation is ranked 53rd in the list of countries by carbon dioxide emissions per capita (2003), emitting 62% less than the United States per capita despite using more primary energy per capita.

Presentation at ENERGY

My presentation covers use and utilisation of renewable energy in Iceland, future research and development, as well as introduction into graduate education at RES - the School for Renewable Energy Science. The presentation will focus on progress and prosperity in Iceland with regards to sustainable future and harnessing of renewable energy sources.

Biography

Arnbjorn Olafsson is the Director of International Affairs at RES - the School for Renewable Energy Science.
He’s studied on graduate level in Iceland and Denmark, and has been involved in various international projects in Europe and North America. His research and teaching interests future studies, scenario planning, research ethics and philosophy of technology and science.
Among various assignments, Mr. Olafsson has served as consultant at the Institute for the Future in San Francisco (1998) focusing on IT development in developing countries, and at Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies (1999 – 2000) on development of scenario planning tools for prognosis studies. Additionally he’s worked as advisor and consultant for various companies in Iceland, Germany, Scandinavia and the United States, lecturing on different themes including process consulting, scenario planning and policy development. He’s also given lectures on renewable energy research and initiatives in Iceland, as well as on the Icelandic education system. He has also served as advisory for the Icelandic government's committee on alternative fuels.
Mr. Olafsson has written publications on the education system in Iceland for the European Union (2002 – 2007), e.g. ReferNet - the European network of reference and expertise and European Inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning. He has been a reporter and editor for Nordic Journal of Lifelong Learning for the Nordic Council of Ministers. He’s also served as national expert on validation of non-formal learning and project manager on EU funded projects on accreditation of non-formal education.
Mr. Olafsson has been on the board of the Icelandic Project Management Association 2002 - 2007, including chairman of the board from 2006 – 2007. He has been involved in various international committees and groups, e.g. the Nordic Council of Ministers, European Union, CEDEFOP – European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training and NORDNET – Nordic Association of Project Managers.