Espiflöt is a flower farm located in the south-west of Iceland. The growth of flowers is made possible by geothermal energy, artificial light, freshwater and naturally cultivated pest control and pollination. The whole system is entirely automated meaning, at least for short periods of time, from anywhere in the world.
After the heating of homes, greenhouses are one of the most important uses of Iceland’s geothermal energy. The first greenhouses in Iceland were constructed around 1924, using the naturally warm soil to grow potatoes. The greenhouses are usually made from glass and uninsulated. As of 2012, greenhouses cover 194,000 square metres.
Of the 194,000 square meters covered by greenhouses, about fifty-percent is used for the cultivation of vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers..etc.) and the rest used for cut flowers and potted plants (there is a saying in Icelandic: “Maður getur alltaf á sig blómum bætt.” It means, “There is always room for more flowers”).
As of 2011, greenhouses are producing approximately 18,000 metric tonnes of vegetables annually, with 75% of all tomatoes and 90% of all cucumbers being produced domestically. The greenhouses use about 100,000 metric tons of water–corresponding to the annual water usage of 130 single family homes. The electricity for the artificial lighting also comes from renewable sources: hydropower and geothermal.
For more information on geothermal energy, check out this lecture from Cornell University:
Icelandic engineer Thorleikur Johannesson told the story of how his country abandoned coal in favor of geothermal energy, Oct. 17, 2016 at a roundtable discussion organized by the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and the Cornell Energy Institute. Johannesson was joined by Todd Cowen, associate director for energy, Atkinson Center; KyuJung Whang, vice president for infrastructure, properties and planning; and moderator Jeff Tester, director of the Cornell Energy Institute. Cornell is considering geothermal heat to warm its campus.