Research Projects and Publications

Leigjendavandinn: The Tenant Problem in Geothermal Leasing

Economics, Policy and Business Geothermal Engineering and Exploration Show all

Author: Christopher Mathews

Year: 2017

Supervisors: Guðni A. Jóhannesson & Eiríkur Elís Þorláksson


Iceland is heavily reliant on the efficient use of geothermal energy. Two-thirds of the nation's current energy needs are met by geothermal resources, and if properly utilized geothermal energy can power Iceland for centuries to come. The division between ownership and control of the resources has caused concern among Icelandic policymakers that private companies with temporary rights to use geothermal resources may focus on short-term exploitation to the detriment of the long-term public interest. This issue is called leigjendavandinn, the tenant problem. Iceland developed a statutory solution for the tenant problem in 2008; but European authorities contend the law violates international agreements and have demanded it be changed. This paper looks at geothermal power and the dispute over Iceland's answer to the tenant problem, and proposes an alternative approach to the problem consistent with both Icelandic and European law.

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