oil on canvas, 36cm x 46cm, Iain White, 2009, £105
Geologically, Iceland is a young volcanic island, located on a hotspot on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the North American and Eurasian plates meet. Geothermal heat is considerable in most parts of the country, and hot water from just below the surface is used to heat homes and for energy production. The Bjarnarflag Geothermal Power Plant, built in 1969, was Iceland's first and uses steam from the Námafjall geothermal field to produce electrical energy. Water, separated from the steam, is also used for district heating in the area. The same water is used in a spa which was built in 2004. Between 1975 and 1985 production was interrupted by a series of nine eruptions (the "Krafla-fires") of the Krafla volcano just to the north.
The plant's success was a watershed moment in Iceland's history, and was the impetus for many larger geothermal projects to come. It also provided much needed clean, reliable power for this somewhat remote part of Iceland years before the realization of a national energy grid, which wasn't completed until 1980.