Iceland is probably the most successful country in the world in terms of utilizing green energy: thanks to its position between two tectonic plates, the American and the Eurasian, the availability of geothermal energy is abundant. At a depth of less than 1km, cold waters both from the sea and the ground mix with the magmatic chambers of the numerous active volcanoes where they are quickly heated and pushed towards the surface.
Thanks to this fascinating gift of Nature, in Iceland fossil fuel amounts only to 15% of the total fuel consumption and is almost exclusively used for transport: 85% of houses in Iceland are heated by geothermal energy and renewable energy sources provide 100% of the electricity needs of the country.
One could say that they are just lucky to be positioned where they are, but Iceland is actively trying to get completely free from the slavery of fossil fuels and in 2013 also became a producer of wind energy. On top of this, they are finding innovative solutions to bridge science and nature, to integrate the production of green energy into different businesses.
The connection between science and nature is evident in the Blue Lagoon, a man-made water reservoir created in 1976 when hot brine from a nearby green geothermal power plant was discharged into the adjacent lava field.
Within a couple of years people started discovering the amazing properties of the unbelievably blue tinted waters of the lagoon adjacent to the Svartsengi Plant which is located about 40 minutes drive from the capital Reykjavik.
From a very basic shelter created for the people who started bathing here in the seventies, the Blu Lagoon has become part of an “Ecocycle: a concept based on ecological balance, economic prosperity and social progress” and the facilities have grown to include the Blue Lagoon spa with bar, restaurant, café and lounge and the Blue Lagoon Clinic and hotel with 15 rooms, designed by Basalt Architects.
The environmental focus was the basis of the architects manifesto: “protect the environment and respect its geological history. Pure Icelandic materials from moss and stones characterize the design. We wanted to emphasize the relationship between nature and the man-made.”
The geothermal seawater of the lagoon, heated to between 37-39° C, owes its color to the high content of small silica molecules and other minerals that reflect sunlight and has been found capable of significantly improve various skin conditions such as psoriasis. The lagoon’s water is completely changed every 40 hours and can boast the Blue Flag Accreditation thanks to the strict icelandic regulations regarding water monitoring.
The Blue Lagoon, with its 400.000 visitors per year is a unique, successful experiment and an example of how we could harness energy in the future: not by sacrificing the planet but as an integrated positive element in our lives.