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    July 22, 2011 | 5:01 PM

    Drill, baby, drill -- for geothermal, that is

    Source: Pedro Plassen Lopes

    A small island nation like Iceland could meet its energy needs by importing and burning coal. However, Iceland has chosen to tackle climate change head on by taking advantage of its abundant, clean domestic natural resources. Iceland already gets 80% of its electricity from clean sources and hopes to boost that number to 100% in the near future. This effort is driven by geothermal energy, which accounts for 54% of the country's energy consumption. Geothermal technology is an age-old process that harnesses the energy from water, warmed by the earth's core, to heat buildings, warm hot springs and generate electricity. Cities and towns all throughout Iceland reap the benefits geothermal brings. Take Husavik, for example. This ancient fishing village of 4,500 residents is committed to clean energy. In 2000, Husavik completed the construction of a new, more efficient combined heat and power plant that converts geothermal energy to electricity. Then, after the water is used to generate power, it is recycled to heat everything from individual homes to Husavik's greenhouses. Husavik's innovative steps have paid major dividends for the small town. The 1.7 Megawatts generated from their power plant provide more than three-fourths of Husavik's residents with clean, reliable electricity. The recycled water also covers nearly 100% of the town's heating needs. Beyond clean energy, the power plant saves the community money and creates local jobs. Geothermal energy's unique properties make it a major slice of the renewable energy pie. The ancient village of Husavik shows how small communities can reap huge benefits from renewable energy. What are the opportunities in your community?

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