Energy Research Knowledge Centre


Research themes and prioritisation


About 81 % of total primary energy supply in Iceland is derived from domestic renewable energy sources. Nearly 85 % of all houses in Iceland are heated with geothermal energy. Renewable energy provides 100 % of electricity production, with about 70 % coming from hydropower and 30 % from geothermal. Most of the hydroelectric power plants are owned by the national power company Landsvirkjun, which is the main supplier of electricity in Iceland.

A draft Comprehensive Energy Policy for Iceland submitted in early 2011 showed how energy is linked to other government policy such as the 20/20 Action Plan, the Master Plan for Hydro and Geothermal Resources, the Climate Action Programme, the proposed National Strategic Phase and the Green Energy programme for transport. The draft energy policy deals with energy savings, more efficient use of geothermal energy, the development of industrial parks and ways to decrease the use of imported fossil fuels.

In 2012 the Icelandic government approved an investment plan for 2013–15. This includes €25 million for the first phase of a fifty-point proposal on strengthening the green economy.

Organisation of research


The main organisation in Iceland responsible for energy matters is the National Energy Authority (NEA), which since 2012 has been part of the Ministry of Industries and Innovation. Since 2003 steps have been taken to outsource exploration and monitoring services to ensure the financial independence and integrity of the NEA. In 2003, as a result of changes in Iceland’s energy legislation, the NEA’s former Geoscience Division was split off to form a new government-owned institution named Iceland GeoSurvey (ÍSOR).

In August 2008 the responsibility for administering licences for surveying and the use of energy resources, plus some other earth-based resources, was transferred to the NEA from the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism (now the Ministry of Industries and Innovation).

NEA is the main body responsible for supporting energy research in Iceland. Some activities are also supported by the Icelandic Centre for Research (RANNIS) which administrates most of the general R&D support schemes.

Table 1: The most important organisations in the energy-related infrastructure of Iceland.

Programmes and budgets


Programmes and initiatives

Iceland has no national R&D programmes dedicated solely to energy.

Several energy-related Icelandic organisations and institutes take part in international programmes such as the EU Framework Programmes. They are also members of Nordic Energy Research, the funding institution for energy research under the Nordic Council of Ministers (the intergovernmental body connecting Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden).

National govermment departments


Ministry of Industries and Innovation (MII)

Atvinnuvega- og nýsköpunarráðuneytið

The Ministry of Industries and Innovation covers all sectors of ordinary business and economic activity. It opened in September 2012 following the amalgamation of the former Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, and part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The establishment of the new ministry coordinates state supervision of industry and innovation in one place, the aim being to pave the way for a vigorous and forward-looking economy.

National research programme management agencies


National Energy Authority of Iceland (NEA)


The NEA is a government agency under the Ministry of Industries and Innovation. Its main responsibilities include advising the government on energy issues and related topics, promoting energy research, and administering the development and exploitation of energy resources.

Icelandic Science and Technology Policy Council (STPC)

Vísinða- og tækniráð

The role of the Science and Technology Policy Council (STPC) is to promote research and research training in the sciences and to encourage technological progress in Iceland for the purpose of strengthening the country’s culture and boosting the competitive capacity of its economy.

Iceland GeoSurvey (ÍSOR)

Iceland GeoSurvey is a self-financing, state-owned, non-profit institution. It receives no direct funding from the government and operates on a project and contract basis. The institution was established 2003, when the Geoscience Division of the NEA was spun off as a separate entity. It is based on six decades of continuous experience in geothermal and hydropower R&D. Although the focus is on geothermal exploration, development, and utilisation, ÍSOR’s experience also covers many other geoscience-related fields including groundwater, marine geology and environmental monitoring.

Funding organisations at national level


The Icelandic Centre for Research (RANNIS)

Rannsóknamiðstöð Íslands (RANNIS)

The Icelandic Centre for Research (RANNIS) supports research, technical development and innovation. RANNIS works closely with the Icelandic Science and Technology Policy Council and provides professional assistance in the preparation and implementation of science and technology policy. RANNIS administers competitive funds and strategic research programmes, coordinates and promotes Icelandic participation in collaborative international projects in science and technology, monitors resources and performance in R&D and promotes public awareness of research and innovation in Iceland.

Innovation Iceland

Nýsköpunarmiðstöð Íslands

Innovation Iceland is the country’s R&D and business support institution. It focuses on increasing innovation, productivity and competitiveness in Icelandic business. Research areas in which Innovation Iceland is active include nanotechnology and renewable energy.

Energy Research Fund – National Power Company of Iceland

Orka rannsóknir – Landsvirkjun

The goal of the Energy Research Fund, managed by Landsvirkjun, is to strengthen and support research in environmental and energy affairs. Landsvirkjun is state-owned and produces 75 % of all the electricity used in Iceland. It is the largest electricity generator in Iceland and one of the ten largest producers of renewable energy in Europe.