Sustainable Cities™

Vestmannaeyjar: The sustainable development

The sustainable development of Vestmannaeyjar in Iceland is an energy project aiming at improving energy efficiency, decreasing energy demand and reducing the use of fossil fuels in industry and household district heating. In partnership with the local residents of Vestmannaeyjar, the town council and the biggest corporations in the island, an energy policy has been developed which has the goal of making the community of Vestmannaeyjar sustainable in the year 2020. Special emphasis in the project is on human behavior.


The project is a joint effort between the University of Iceland, the National Energy Agency, the Innovation Centre in Vestmannaeyjar, local authorities and the biggest industries. A two-year subproject with using and testing smart meters in 30-40 houses and small businesses is carried out in cooperation between researchers from Iceland, Ireland, Scotland and Finland.

The main elements of the project are:

  • developing a clear energy policy for Vestmannaeyjar
  • maximizing the use of sustainable energy
  • improving energy efficiency in a joint effort with residents and the industry
  • utilization of surplus heat from the fish processing plants and from a waste incineration plant
  • eliminating the use of oil for district heating and electricity production by installing a sea water heat pump to be connected to the district heating system, and investing in wind mills.

Benefits brought along by this project include the following:

  • reduction of about 31,5 GWh of the use of fossil fuels per year
  • 8,6 million tons less of CO2-emissions
  • reduction of up to 43 % of current electricity consumption increased energy efficiency of public institutions with at least 20 %
  • reduction in electricity and hot water demand in households and industry by 20 %.

The total cost of the project is 610000 euro. The funding comes from the Icelandic Energy Fund, Icelandic House Fund, the Innovation Fund of University students, the NPP (Northern Periphery Program), Innovation Center Iceland, HS veitur Energy, and the Municipality of Vestmannaeyjar.

"The people of Vestmannaeyjar depend on the environment and have been utilising sustainable local resources of fish, eggs and birds through ages. We were quick to fi nd out ways to utilise the heat from the lava after the eruption in 1973 to heat up houses. A lot of projects towards more sustainable use of energy have been going on in Vestmannaeyjar during the last couple of years and we want to provide an even better environment for the coming generations. With our work we will use more renewable energy resources, we will use less fossil fuels and less energy. We will use heat energy from the sea to heat our houses. We will have more sustainable Vestmannaeyjar". - Gunnlaugur Grettisson, Town Council President, Vestmannaeyjar

>> More information about the project

>> More information about the Nordic Energy Municipality

>> More information about the Nordic Energy Municipality 2011 - for new and sustainable efforts in the energy area Award Ceremony - 31st of October, 2011 at The Danish Architecture Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014