The eight Arctic countries - Iceland, Canada, Denmark (Greenland and the Faroe Islands) Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the United States (Alaska) - have diverse energy systems, but can be split into two distinct groups based on energy characteristics. The first group includes systems in Europe (Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland), which are heavily grid-connected. The second group includes the United States (Alaska), Canada, Russia, and Greenland, which have grid-connected energy systems in their more densely populated southern regions, but are also defined by the prevalence of remote microgrids. Energy sources for heat and power vary across grid-connected communities in the Arctic nations. The primary energy source for remote communities, on the other hand, is almost exclusively diesel. This is true for both heat and power. Despite these and other key distinctions, Arctic countries share many commonalities with regard to their energy systems. One is a fundamental need for heat. Heat and electric energy are linked in most communities - remote, rural, and urban - and those linked systems are increasingly vulnerable to disruptions. Several of the Arctic countries use baseload renewable energy resources for heat and power. Iceland uses geothermal and hydroelectric; Canada, the United States, Sweden, Norway, and Finland use hydroelectric. Utilization of baseload renewable energy resources on-site for combined heat and power appears to enhance the resilience of communities in Arctic countries with high penetration of those resources. On the other hand, reliance on diesel by remote communities in other Arctic countries may be amplifying vulnerabilities. Although geothermal energy is currently used in all eight Arctic countries, resources are poorly mapped, and details can be difficult to come by. Despite this, geothermal energy provides heat and sometimes electricity at both utility scales and at the microgrid scale. Geothermal electricity is produced in Iceland, Russia, and the United States (Alaska). Direct use of geothermal heat is used in Iceland, Russia, United States, Canada, and Norway. Geo-exchange is used in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Canada, and the United States. In this paper, we reframe geothermal heat and power systems as integrated energy systems, asking the question: are integrated geothermal energy systems - where available and economic - resilient solutions for communities in Arctic countries? We identify resilience attributes of integrated geothermal energy systems, with a focus on microgrids and small-scale applications. Based on the high-level, qualitative analysis presented in this paper, the answer appears to be yes. Further work should prioritize refining our understanding of geothermal resources in Arctic countries, because development of the most economic geothermal resources in Arctic countries has the potential to enhance the energy resilience of its residents, whether in a grid-connected or remote off-grid context.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages74
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5700-80928


  • arctic countries
  • combined heat and power
  • energy resilience
  • geothermal energy
  • geothermal heat
  • geothermal power
  • renewable heating technologies


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