Iceland's Power Struggles Iceland's has had a long struggle with economic booms and busts. International banking proved itself to be no more stable an economic lifeline than the traditional fishing and farming. For decades, the Icelandic government has tried to find a way to even out this economic roller coaster by turning to the natural resource most plentiful in Iceland: renewable energy. The hydroelectric potential is vast with the country's many glacial rivers. Untapped geothermal power oozes from underneath the volcanic island's soil. But the Icelanders face a stark choice in the midst of their economic meltdown: Exploit a wealth of clean energy, or keep their unique landscape pristine? To monetize this enormous capacity for generating power, Iceland's governments have long sought to attract aluminium companies, among the world's most energy-intensive industries, to set up shop. Alcoa, Alcan and Century Aluminium already have smelters operating here, and there numerous plans for further plants. However, industrial expansion comes at the cost of damming up rivers, drilling into pristine geothermal fields and destroying habitats. Local environmentalists are protesting loudly, seeking to protect some of the world's most unique and unspoiled areas. Industrialists counter that it's better to utilize Iceland's 'clean' energy for global industrial needs, rather to have them use coal-powered smelters in Asia, and that the smelters rejuvenate Iceland's dying rural communities. The heated struggle for Iceland's environment is sure to continue for years ahead.