Ambassador Robert C. Barber’s presentation at the Celebration of Inquiry challenged others to think of unique ways to create and use renewable energy.
Barber, who has been ambassador since January 2015, met opposition when first nominated by President Obama in October 2013.
A former Massachusetts Super Lawyer, Barber was criticized for his perceived lack of experience, not only by members of the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee but by popular comedian Jon Stewart as well.
Barber was not phased by this hostility.
With previous experience working with the issues of start-up small and medium-sized companies as well as having raised over $2.9 million for President Obama’s campaigns, Barber expressed his belief that he was qualified for the position due to his ability to connect people with similar economic interests and goals.
Since given the opportunity, the ambassador has made tremendous effort in bettering both Iceland and America.
Barber said that both countries have something to learn from one another.
“Through these shared experiences, I’ve seen how both we as Americans have a lot to learn from Icelanders but also how Icelanders can learn a thing or two to learn from us,” said Barber. “Both can benefit from the way each approach and solve problems differently.”
According to Barber many studies shows that the most prevalent problem at hand is the immediate need for renewable energy due to the state of the environment.
With natural resources finite, Barber said that the necessity for renewable energy is prevalent.
“We have to come to terms with the reality that certain traditional, natural resources are finite and limited. It is important that we realize the need for renewable energy. So, I dare to be so bold as to suggest that we should constantly be asking: how can we do better?”
According to the ambassador, Iceland is a pioneer in harnessing Earth’s energy through geothermal power production.
“As you already probably know, clean and renewable energy is nothing new to the Icelanders. In fact, Iceland’s first hydro power plant was built in 1904. Today there are 48 hydro-electric generating centers in the country and 5 major geo-power plants, which are publicly and privately owned, including the third largest geo-power plant in the world.”
Many statistics illustrate Iceland’s commitment to innovative renewable energy.
The National Energy Authority (NEA) of Iceland reported that in 2014, 85% of primary energy use in Iceland came from renewable resources, with 66% being geothermal energy.
With a lot of experience harnessing its own renewable energy resources, Barber said Iceland is now spreading it’s knowledge and capabilities to other parts of the world.
“The U.S. Icelandic firm called Reykjavick GeoThermal is now working with the government in Ethiopia to build Africa’s largest geothermal power plant, said Barber. “Together the U.S. and Iceland are working to invest in Africa as well as in a cleaner, more secure future for the people of Ethiopia.”
The ambassador said that this project will serve as a poster child for future partnerships.
“This project will serve as the foundation for future collaboration that will open doors for renewable energy projects around the world.”