Day 2 – Stormy day in Reykjavik – the first excursions!

The day started with the first breakfast at Oddsson Hotel, which turned out to be excellent and a positive surprise to us with both its quality and abundance. Based on the conversations at the breakfast table, the first night in the accommodation in Iceland went well. The day of travel had tired many of us and we had gone to bed quite early.

Our energetic excu group was ready to go on the first excu of the trip half an hour before it started. Icewind is an Icelandic wind turbine developer whose turbines are designed for extreme weather conditions. We found the location very well with rental cars from the airport after a little searching.

The CEO of Icewind introduced his company to us and the presentation was amazing. Iceland’s energy system consists mostly of geothermal and hydro energy, which are extremely reliable and easily controlled. There isn’t a lot of wind power, only a few turbines with less than a MW of net power output but since the population density is so low and there is still a need for telecommunication throughout Iceland, wind turbines for extreme conditions are wanted. The power grid cannot be built everywhere and there are several dozens of telecom tower that are off-grid but still need power to operate. This is where Icewind’s vertical axis turbines come to rescue.

Traditional wind turbines are not durable enough for gusts of Iceland, which can go as high as 80 m/s, so unconventional solution had to be developed. These turbines produce power from 100 to 500 W at 10 m/s and it is more than enough for remote telecom station and other appliances far from major cities. The market is really specific but the need for this kind of solutions is really crucial and companies are willing to invest significant amounts of money to these solutions.

The excursion ended in a tour at their R&D facility where we asked our final questions and thanked for the visit. We gave our previous out-of-Finland excursion magazines and a Moomin mug to the Icewind CEO and sang the traditional excursion song for him and one other employee of the company.

After a short power break at the hotel, we headed to the center of Reykjavik where the embassy of Finland is located. We left our cars near the embassy and despite the stormy weather we survived to the closest restaurant, Himalayan Spice, for lunch. Thanks to a tasty but light meal we avoided food coma and fastened our way through the rough weather back to the embassy.

In the embassy the welcome was warm and there were coffee and biscuits waiting for us. Finland’s Ambassador to Iceland, Ann-Sofie Stude, was unavailable so we were hosted by Adviser Anna-Katri Koskivirta and college intern Sofie Lagerroos. The 100-year-old building of the embassy was elegant and the atmosphere therefore quite classy as well. Anna-Katri had prepared us a presentation about Iceland in general and we got to know many interesting facts of Iceland, here’s top five:

  1. The greatest glacier Vatnajökull is the biggest in Europe and covers 8 % of the land area of Iceland.
  2. Iceland is one of the founder countries of Nato, but it doesn’t have an own army. The aerial surveillance is managed by different Nato-countries with a circuit-system, there’s Italy in charge at the moment.
  3. The main industries in Iceland are tourism, aluminium industry and fishing.
  4. Among the Icelanders, there seem to be a lot of suspicion of economic and financial people. The reason is probably the economical crisis in 2008 that hit Iceland hard.
  5. The ministry of environment is making a report of building wind power to Iceland. More power is needed because of the transport electrification.

+ Extra: Diplomatic relations between Iceland and Finland celebrate their 75th birthday this year! The relationship between the countries is good and Finland has an excellent reputation here.

Anna-Katri and Sofie told us also about the cultural differences between Iceland and Finland. There was one thing that they had noticed: Icelanders usually tend to plan their schedules for a lot shorter period than Finns. In addition, things are often done in the last minute here. Maybe the rapid-changing and extreme weather is one of the reasons for that: life (that happens outside) cannot be planned weeks before. “Þetta reddast!” say the Icelanders: it’s all going to work out in the end.

The evening was free, so our excursion group divided into departments of shopping, jogging and resting. The weather had become nice and even the sun showed up for some minutes. The end of the first full day in Reykjavik was relaxed and pleasant, even though the price of a small take-away pizza (17 €) made our eyebrows rise towards the half-clouded sky.

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