Why Iceland has the Cleanest Energy and How You Can Be a Part of It

As Finnish residents, we've heard rumours of Finland’s massive consumption of energy per person, but while our climate conditions might be harsh, it would be outrageous exaggeration to say we have it worse than Iceland does (at least down here in Helsinki).That in mind, it might not surprise you that Iceland consumes the most electricity per capita in the world.

In comparison, according to data collected in 2012, Finland used approximately 55 000 kWh/year/capita, whereas Iceland used a threefold of that amount, roughly 165 000 kWh/year/capita!

Another interesting observation is that Finland imports around 15% of the energy it consumes (with a grand majority of that imported from Russia), where Iceland imports a round zero percent of its energy.

So we ask ourselves, how is this the case?

Many would love to say that Iceland just got lucky, I mean, they've got a bunch of thermal pools and volcanoes, right?

Well they do have thermal pools and volcanoes, but truth be told, so far they've only been good for tourist attraction and apocalyptic ash clouds. In fact, Iceland produces 70% of its energy through hydroelectricity and 20% through geothermal energy production, all renewable energy sources if I might add.

It’s the result of dedicated investments in green power; Startup accelerators like Startup Energy Reykjavik (SER) only add up to the continuous innovation of Icelandic energy.

Since 2012, Startup Reykjavik has been running an active accelerator program following the TechStars modus operandi, but in 2013, a new category with a focus on energy and energy related startups was decided upon, due to the icy nation’s constantly growing need for green energy (124% increase since 2000).

A year later in 2014, SER was founded, and it had its first batch of companies graduate on May this year. This fall SER will be accepting applications for the Spring 2015 batch.

Seven teams are selected to take part in the accelerator program, after which the selected startups receive $44,000 in cash for a 10% equity share.

SER is a co-operative project between Arion bank (one of Iceland’s three largest banks), Landsvirkjun (Iceland’s largest electricity generator), GEORG (geothermal research group) and Innovation Center Iceland (government run innovation center), which is essential to know, since as shareholders, these respected companies and institutions will be willing to help out the participants in any way possible.

The program kicks off with a conventional meetup with about 50 mentors who are experienced people in the energy sector; university professors; business people after which the ten weeks of intensive top-notch mentorships and hard work will begin at the Reykjavik University where participants will be provided with the necessary facilities to spin out a solid proof-of-concept initiative.

At the end of the program participants will have a chance to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists.

It’s definitely a chance to work with the best there is when it comes to green energy: Iceland has been home a tremendous amount of knowledge, experience and know-how in the energy sector over the last decades. That ingenuity is now opening its arms and passing on its knowledge in order to create new and energetic companies in that field.

Iceland's Minister of Industry and Commerce (Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir) giving a speech at SER Investor Day (Demo Day)

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