Iceland eyeing giant cable to sell power to Europe

Mar 07, 2011
Iceland's Eyjafjoell volcano spewing ash and steam near Hvolsvöllur in 2010. Iceland is considering building the world's longest sub-sea electric cable to allow it to sell its geothermal and volcanic energy to Europe, the country's largest energy company said Monday.

Iceland is considering building the world's longest sub-sea electric cable to allow it to sell its geothermal and volcanic energy to Europe, the country's largest energy company said Monday.

"This project started last year and the current phase of research should be finished by the end of the year... We will (then) have clearer information about the feasibility of the project," Landsvirkjun spokeswoman Ragna Sara Jonsdottir told AFP, adding that a final decision on the project would likely come within four to five years.

After taking a hit when its Eyjafjoell last year paralysed European skies for weeks with a massive cloud of , Iceland is seeking to instead draw benefits from its geology with the cable, which would allow it to sell energy extracted from geothermal sources like volcanoes and geysers.

"Among things being studied is the destination country. Potential countries include Britain, Norway, Holland and Germany," Jonsdottir said.

Depending on the destination country, the cable would be between 1,200 and 1,900 kilometres (745-1,180 miles) long, making it "the longest sub-sea cable in the world."

The project aims for the exportation of some five terawatt-hours (or five billion kilowatt-hours) each year, Jonsdottir said.

At current power prices in Europe, that corresponds to between 250 and 320 million euros ($350-448 million) in exports annually, and is enough to cover the average annual consumption of 1.25 million European households.

"The idea is to meet demand during peak hours in Europe, as well as some base load," Jonsdottir said, refusing to estimate how much the project might cost to implement.

Landsvirkjun, which is state-owned, produces about 75 percent of all electricity in Iceland.

Iceland, which was especially hard-hit by the global financial crisis and saw all its major banks collapse at the end of 2008, has been searching for ways to boost its economy, which had been heavily dependent on the bloated financial sector and is now mainly based on fishing.

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User comments : 9

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jmlvu
4.5 / 5 (4) Mar 07, 2011
Enron did something like this in Oregon when they took the cheap electricity generated in northwest dams and sold it to California. So now people in the the Northwest pay more and the corporation reaps the profit.
TheChamp
4 / 5 (3) Mar 07, 2011
wow, thats a win for Iceland. This is a great step toward using and promoting sustainable energy.
ryggesogn2
Mar 07, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
GaryB
5 / 5 (5) Mar 08, 2011
Enron did something like this in Oregon when they took the cheap electricity generated in northwest dams and sold it to California. So now people in the the Northwest pay more and the corporation reaps the profit.


Your model of the world is a bit too simplistic. On the other hand, I do think that Enron, which used to be a perfectly decent company but became what it is when it started hiring wall street traders. They'll sink anything since their incentive is to swing for grand slams. Cries out for regulation.
ODesign
5 / 5 (4) Mar 08, 2011
jmlvu makes a good point.
In addition to researching the technology and mechanical systems they should research the financial and economic details to ensure their wealth doesn't get hijacked again.

Imagine if they had to give banks controlling interest and majority shares that let banks reap the stock dividends, while the people operating the plants, and cable producers and those living near and owning the hydrothermal power got very little or nothing back. That would be great for the banks, but the goal is to help recover from what the banks did to the iceland economy not support banks with government supported infrastructure.
Pkunk_
not rated yet Mar 08, 2011
Enron did something like this in Oregon when they took the cheap electricity generated in northwest dams and sold it to California. So now people in the the Northwest pay more and the corporation reaps the profit.


Well if you include the cost of constructing a dam and the maintenance costs involved , then the "cheap electricity" very soon becomes "not so cheap". It is a fantasy that just because you live near something you have a magical "right" to any profits it generates.
Bitflux
not rated yet Mar 08, 2011
Go for it Iceland, get us cheap clean energy, we need it more than ever.
RFriedman55
not rated yet Mar 13, 2011
You need to do a little research on the Pacific DC Intertie designed and built in the 1960s electrified for service in 1970, it has been upgraded ever since. This system takes the credit here not ENRON. It is a 1362 kilometer +- 500KV DC circuit that can transmit 3100MW of power from Northern Oregon to Southern California. One can see it cross interstate highway I-15 north of Las Vegas in Nevada. It is one of the greatest electrical engineering feats in the 20Th for the USA and it is a Swedish as it is American a great collaboration. It is the only way to send huge amounts of electric power a long way with minimum loss and with no power grid stability problems since it is asynchronous power transmission. It is hardware that our parents invested in to better the country particularly the west. We should invest in our future. We should take little Iceland's as an example in audacity, they want to build a undersea version of the Pacific DC intertie - small country, big dreams.
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 13, 2011
Could be a great opportunity to use 'high' temp super conductors as temp is stable on the bottom of the ocean.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Mar 14, 2011
Could be a great opportunity to use 'high' temp super conductors as temp is stable on the bottom of the ocean.

Not near Iceland it isn't.