Much to learn from Iceland, where the heat under their feet comes from nature

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It makes full use of Iceland’s reputation as the land of fire and ice, tapping into the natural power bubbling away in this volcanic hotspot.

This, plus hydroelectricity exploiting the countless waterfalls tumbling off the glacier-clad mountains, leaves the country’s electricity almost completely renewable.

Geothermal power also supplies the heat for nine in 10 buildings in Iceland. When your room is warm and cosy, the heat is coming from water from deep below the Earth. Better still, power bills are about one third the UK average of more than £1,000.

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Iceland has five major geothermal power plants – and Hellisheidi, a short drive from the capital of Reykjavik, is the biggest.

But this use of nature’s bounty does not have to be confined to volcanic hotspots.

More than two million homes in the UK could be heated by geothermal power, according to a report by the firm ARUP and the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology.

It said with government backing it could generate up to 35,000 jobs across 360 sites by 2050, supplying “all of the UK’s needs for at least 100 years”.

The best places for the source in the UK are the industrial heartlands, many of which are sitting on suitable geological formations.

Electricity is cheap in Iceland, which explains the popularity of petrol-free electric or hybrid cars, using volcanic power.

University of Iceland geochemist Dr Martin Voigt puts his electricity bill at £150 a year and pays £204 for hot water, compared with the average of £1,138 in the UK.

He said: “There is heat underground everywhere. It is just a matter of how deep you have to drill and the temperature you need.”

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