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A Green Methanol Pioneer Finally Has a Market

The accelerating climate crisis and increased concerns about energy security have boosted demand for an Icelandic company’s environmentally friendly fuel.

The George Olah Renewable Methanol plant in Svartsengi, Iceland.

The George Olah Renewable Methanol plant in Svartsengi, Iceland.

Courtesy: Carbon Recycling International

Along a narrow winding road on a windswept stretch of Iceland’s southern Reykjanes Peninsula, a collection of electrolyzers, compressors and pipes offers a turnkey solution to help decarbonize the shipping industry.

In 2006, the founders of Carbon Recycling International Ltd. saw an opportunity to use Iceland’s abundant geothermal power, fed by the underground rivers of magma that heat the Arctic nation’s groundwater, to create “electrified” methanol, a green alternative to fossil fuel. They located the George Olah Renewable Methanol plant—named for the late Nobel laureate—half a kilometer (0.31 miles) from the Svartsengi geothermal power station, whose warm runoff waters feed the famed Blue Lagoon tourist attraction.