Clean Green PR on Scene – Iceland Leads World

This week I attended a Clean Energy conference in Reno put together by the Geothermal Energy Association. Looking for new investment opportunities and Green clients I received an excellent education to supplement previous events on environmental sustainability. My attitudes from the Green PR perspective influenced what I heard – but, I really am positive about the global movement towards “sustainability”, “social responsibility”, and cleaning up our air, water, and land.  

Global Warming aside, and disregarding the politically charged term “Green” (if you’ve been Gored to death), the reality is we all have a stake in leaving a cleaner planet for our posterity. Iceland is the most obvious Green Public Relations example of a model for the rest of us to follow. 

Driven by economic issues that are just now catching up to the rest of the world, the cost/benefit analysis for 1970 Iceland set that country on a visionary environmental course that leads the world now, just one generation later. Consider what they have accomplished in just 30 years: 

  • 100% of electrical needs and 70% of total energy needs are now supplied by clean energy resources.

  • The country emits 62% less carbon dioxide per person than the U.S., despite using more primary energy per capita.

  • Consumers pay just five cents**/kilowatt-hour for electricity.

  • Iceland has done away with the need for nearly 650,000 tons of oil per year.

  • 89% of homes in Iceland are heated by direct geothermal heat.

Given, the country has indigenous geothermal features that enable a 90 megawatt power plant (enough for roughly 90,000 homes). But, U.S. states and other countries may have better access to wind, solar, hydro, biomass, or ocean renewable power sources. Utah will match Iceland’s geothermal power output in the next year or two with help from companies like Raser Technologies  

A word to investors – Iceland reports $8.2 billion in energy savings from 1970-2000. Their bold moves have attracted three major aluminum plants to the country. This has greatly diversified the county’s dependence on the fishing industry for GNP. Additionally, the country is now able to farm year round with profitable indoor green houses heated by geothermal. 40,000 meters of city streets and parking lots are heated. Cooperation among government, municipalities, power companies, and private industry has made this possible. I think the U.S. can do even better, but we have some work ahead to overcome inertia and competing interests in powerful places, both private and public. 

From the PR standpoint, Iceland has made a place in history like Armstrong on the Moon, or Lindbergh across the Atlantic, or Edison with the light bulb. Which states in the U.S. will lead? Will the U.S. lead or follow in this transition to renewable energy, which in the long term is the most sustainable choice.  What do you think? 

*source: Wall Street Journal      **about half of the U.S. average price

About the Author:

As founder of PilmerPR, John Pilmer, APR serves as a PR and marketing communications advisor for both emerging and established companies. He offers customers more than 20 years of results-driven business PR and marketing experience. John and the firm have provided PR consultation and campaigns for clients such as Mozy, Novell, AdvancedMD, Certiport, NextPage, ElectraTherm, Altiris, Avamar, EmergeCore Networks, FSLogic, INVISUS, 10x Marketing, MWI, Project Insight, REIC, Seastone, US Synthetic and Funding Universe (now Lendio), among others.


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