Interview with Bjarni Bjarnason

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Bjarni Bjarnason, born in Iceland where I live. I am the CEO of Reykjavik Energy, a power and utility company serving about two thirds of the Icelanders with geothermal district heating, cold water, power and optical fiber connection. My background is in geology. I have been in different positions in the power industry my whole working life.

What makes Geothermal so great?

Iceland is blessed with great geothermal resources and 5% of the country’s GDP is estimated to come from geothermal. No other country comes close measured on the GDP scale. If I look at my own personal life and how it connects to geothermal it goes like this:

Hengill is an active central volcano some 20 km east of Reykjavik, where I live. Reykjavik Energy owns and operates two power plants harnessing the geothermal energy of the Hengill volcano. Both are combined heat and power plants producing large amounts of hot water for geothermal district heating plus some 400 MW of electric power. My home is heated by hot water from Hengill so I can keep every room at 22°C, including the garage, year round. The heating cost is very low, probably only a quarter of the cost paid by homes in North Europe in general. The heat comes from a non polluting domestic energy source. In the morning, before I go to work, I take a swim in one of the numerous geothermal outdoor swimming pools in the Reykjavik area that are open every day of the year. When I come home in the evening I light my house and cook my food with electricity from the volcano.

The latest addition is e-mobility and now I drive to work in my electric car powered by Hengill. I call it “from volcano to wheels”.