A tiny coastal town in Norway is about to become home to an ambitious enterprise that will turn a diminishing glacier into a high-end cocktail cooler. Is there cause for alarm?
April 4, 2015
Glomfjord, Norway, is a coastal town of 1,120 residents just north of the Arctic Circle. For decades, it was home to a chemical plant that produced ammonia. After it was shuttered in 1993, two Norwegian solar power entrepreneurs saw an opportunity, and Renewable Energy Corporation began making solar panels in the former ammonia plant in 1997. Sadly, lower manufacturing costs in Asia forced REC to move its domestic production overseas, and it closed its doors in Glomfjord three years ago.
Now, a startup company called Svaice is occupying that old factory, and aims to make a very low-tech product – ice cubes – from an abundant (yet diminishing) local resource: glaciers.
Specifically, the ice would come from nearby Vestre Svartisen, the second-largest glacier in Norway. Since Svaice, led by local businessman Geir Olsen, announced its business plan last year, it has attracted both interest among local government officials eager to support a new local employer, as well as incredulity among people who cannot fathom commoditizing chunks of a glacier that is already receding rapidly.