Holland - The Little Country That Can

by Laura Mitic (Carmanah) for The Jellyfish Project

In Holland, workers install the world's first solar-powered bike lane

In Holland, workers install the world's first solar-powered bike lane

In Holland, there are more bikes than people. In my opinion, it is the little country that could...or maybe I should rephrase that to the little country that can, and is. It seems to me that Holland is one of the most logical and well organized countries, and therefore, it was not surprising to hear that they have had a National Environmental Policy Plan for more than 20 years and have already met over 70% of the original goals of this plan. These environmental initiatives have already led to cleaning the country's rivers, improving waste management, and reducing air pollution. Now they are focusing on investing in renewable energy sources and further reducing carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 and 95% by 2015.

Holland is remarkably bike friendly, and I think this is one of the most amazing things that the rest of the world can learn from them. For many people in Holland, biking is the easiest, most logical and most economical choice. There are either well marked bike lanes or completely separate bike paths built alongside the roads. In the cities, thousands of bikes are organized into bike "parking lots." People of all ages ride their bikes, from kids going to school (they all ride together and it looks like one big bus load of kids, minus the bus, going down the street) to senior citizens (and of course, exercise is another benefit here too!).

Plus, there's more, check out this awesome article on how Holland has opened the world's first solar bike lane!

Students Speak Out - Feedback on the JFP from Students

From September 2013 to March 2014, The Jellyfish Project (JFP) provided shows to over 50,000 students across Canada to raise awareness about ocean health and climate change issues. The JFP’s Winter Tour focused on schools on the west coast of Canada, including the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. In the spring, Jessica Lansfield, a doctoral student from the University of Victoria, conducted focus groups with students who had seen a JFP presentation during the Winter 2014 Tour to discover their perspectives on the JFP, its messages, and how to engage today’s youth.

The following document, Students Speak Out, is a summary of what the students had to say.

Geothermal Energy in Iceland

by Laura Mitic (Carmanah) for The Jellyfish Project

I find myself in Iceland, the land of Viking descendants, fascinating history, breathtaking natural wonders and, in recent years, incredible research into an excellent alternative in energy production... Geothermal energy!

99% of Iceland's energy comes from renewable resources, the biggest portion of that being from hydro power harnessed in gigantic dams found mostly in Northern Iceland. However, 30% of Iceland's energy (and this number is sure to grow) is being gathered by geothermal power plants.  Nearly all houses in Iceland are heated with geothermal water. 

Iceland is located directly over the North American and Eurasian plates that are pulling apart from each other. This splitting makes Iceland one of the most geologically active places on earth. Shallow plumes of magma heat gigantic underwater water reservoirs to over 400 degrees C.  Geothermal power plants harness the heat and energy created by this. 

This change to renewable energy has happened in recent years. In fact, in the mid 20th century 80% of Iceland's energy needs were met from coal and oil that was imported by European ships.  In old photos, you can see the capital city, Reykjavík, with clouds of smog looming over it. 

Now, the city is known as being the cleanest capital in the world and Iceland has become the leading exporter of geothermal expertise to the rest of the globe. 

The country also benefits greatly from its geothermal potential in other ways.  Travelers, like me, flock to places like the Blue Lagoon, an amazing hot pool heated by a stream of hot water from a nearby geothermal power plant, Nesjavellir. The stream clogs porous rocks and has created a beautiful big hot lagoon that is known for its blue colour as well as for having healing qualities. 

Hot springs are all over the island and tours of geothermal power plants are available for people wanting to know more about this awesome alternative for clean energy. 

Of course, there is more to know and geothermal power plants do still emit small levels of CO2 along with the steam that pours from them.  But this is a remarkable step in the right direction of alternatives to energy created by coal and oil. 

I've now experienced hard boiling an egg in a bubbling geothermal spring, and I've tasted the delicious Hverabraud bread (translates to "hot spring bread"), that is left to bake beneath the hot ground for 24 hours.  I'm feeling inspired by Iceland's  successful efforts to no longer depend on fossil fuels for energy production.  We need to follow in Iceland's footsteps and stop seeing fossil fuels as the only way to power our communities. There are so many ways that multiple types of renewable energy can give us exactly what we need, without filling our atmosphere with toxic fumes. 

Check out this article to learn so much more on Iceland's geothermal energy production!

Should Canada Go Geothermal?

Taken from the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions Website
Published Oct 16, 2014

British Columbia has no geothermal power generation, but according to new research released by Canada’s geothermal energy sector, the province could generate 5,500 megawatts of power from geothermal sources — equivalent to about five times the generating capacity of the potential Site C hydroelectric dam, at prices of 10 cents per kilowatt hour or less. The provincial government is preparing to make a decision on whether to go ahead with Site C sometime in November. A Joint Review Panel that examined BC Hydro’s application for Site C noted that there were potential alternatives that hadn’t been fully explored, including geothermal. Utility-scale geothermal energy typically involves drilling up to thousands of metres into the earth to tap hot spots, such as areas with young or active volcanoes, to draw heat to the surface to generate steam to drive power turbines. Among the advantages of geothermal power is that it involves low running costs, it is reliable, and it does not create pollution.

As countries around the world attempt to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, geothermal energy is a potential source of clean power generation in tectonically active areas such as Iceland or the Pacific Ring of Fire. Japan, for example, currently has 17 geothermal power stations and has plans to develop more. France also has plans to increase its use of geothermal energy, despite being a more geologically stable country than either Iceland or Japan. Currently, Paris has the world’s second-largest concentration of geothermal wells, after Iceland, and is developing a 13-kilometre geothermal network that will ultimately bring heat to 180,000 Parisian homes. There are no such initiatives underway in Canada, despite high geothermal resources, especially in BC and the Yukon. Ironically, Canadian energy companies run geothermal power plants around the world but not here, largely because abundant hydropower and fossil fuel energy makes geothermal power economically uncompetitive in most of the country. But the fact remains: geothermal resources in British Columbia are significant and offer an opportunity for the province to reinforce its commitment developing low-carbon energy resources. Those will become increasingly economically attractive when (not if) the price on carbon emissions escalates in the future.