There are websites that will tell the average reader online that Iceland is a 100% renewable energy goldmine. This is not 100% true. The claims made that confuse readers. [1]Behind the 100 percent of electricity generated in the country by renewable energy sources is the dangerous truth that half of that energy is provided at low costs to aluminum smelters. Aluminum is incredibly energy consuming to extract and refine. Considering that the overall waste generated from aluminum mining and production has doubled since 1970[2] according to the EPA it is rather shocking that Iceland’s most valuable export product is now aluminum. There are plans with the Aluminum producer giant Alcoa to build more plants in Iceland as well as expansions to be made to existing plants. [3]Recycling aluminum takes less than ten percent of the energy used to make a new metal from aluminum’s source ore bauxite. [4]It is very cost affective for companies like Alcoa to invest in a location that sells energy so cheaply considering the high fossil-based energy required to derive aluminum from the bauxite rock.[5] The decision to allow aluminum smelters to practically take over Iceland is reminiscent to the far less damaging than raising sheep had been. [6]The sheep brought into Iceland tore up the delicate topsoil around and had to be limited due to the damage. [7]The big danger now is with all the fallout from the refining ore may leave the fragile environment of Iceland to be drastically changed. [8] More and more reports of medical issues related to waste runoff from aluminum/refining facilities are surfacing[9]. this diversification of Iceland's industry is taking it's tole[10] No real solution to the problem has yet been offered. The government is still siding with industry and justifiably so. With aluminum as their main export product Iceland is now deep in bed with Alcoa and China and others vying for control of the soon to be would-be largest aluminum producing country in Europe. [11]

Not all that is green is golden.
The "upright=1.5" option
  1. Iceland: Eaten Alive, or Growing to Live? John Thackara
  3. Iceland: Eaten Alive, or Growing to Live? John Thackara
  4. Iceland: A 100% renewables example in the modern era, Paul Gipe
  5. Iceland: A 100% renewables example in the modern era, Paul Gipe
  6. Michael Ruppert, Collapse (2009)
  7. Iceland divided over aluminum's role in its future; Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times