Aluminium Smelters Use Tremendous Amounts Of Electricity, Return Little

Published November 9, 2011

The smallest aluminium smelter in Iceland uses 50% more electricity than all of Iceland’s households and businesses combined, while contributing very little to the country’s GDP.
Heavy industry has often been touted by Icelandic conservatives as a cash cow: foreign companies can provide the country with jobs, while utilising Iceland’s green energy to produce aluminium in a cleaner fashion.
While the myth of the “green smelter” has been definitively put to rest, aluminium is still billed by some as being good for the economy.
However, Vilhjálmur Þorsteinsson – the chair of a study group assembled by the Ministry of Industry that studies Iceland’s energy use – has come to some damning conclusions about smelters in Iceland.
Iceland’s three aluminium smelters – Alcoa in Reyðarfjörður, Norðurál in Grundartangi, and Alcan in Straumsvík – consume approximately 13 terawatt hours of electricity. The entire capacity of Iceland’s electrical output is 17 terawatt hours. Furthermore, Straumsvík – the smallest smelter in the country – uses 3.6 terawatt hours. The combined total energy consumption of every home and business in Iceland (apart from the smelters) equals only 2.3 terawatt hours.
At the same time, even the best estimates of what smelters contribute to the economy only put them in the neighbourhood of contributing to 5% of the GDP. Tourism accounts for about the same percentage of the GDP while using far less of the power grid. Meanwhile, Iceland’s service sector accounts for 69.9% of its GDP, and fishing accounts for 12%.



News
For & Against: Puffin Shops

For & Against: Puffin Shops

by

FOR: It seems there is nothing Iceland’s Marx­loving dirt­munching contingent hate more than someone else’s success. This was the case

News
Ásmundur “Just Asking Questions” Once Again

Ásmundur “Just Asking Questions” Once Again

by

Independence Party MP Ásmundur Friðriksson has posed yet another formal question in parliament about asylum seekers – a subject he

News
Sperm Whale Beaches In North Iceland – VIDEO

Sperm Whale Beaches In North Iceland – VIDEO

by

A 12-metre-long sperm whale washed up on the beaches of Dalvík yesterday morning, attracting a crowd of onlookers. Dalvík resident

News
Police Use Pepper Spray On Party Guests

Police Use Pepper Spray On Party Guests

by

Police in northeast Iceland used pepper spray to break up a party last Saturday after guests refused to leave. Austurfrétt

News
Man Gives Birth To Baby In North Iceland

Man Gives Birth To Baby In North Iceland

by

One Icelander has just set a historical precedent by being “the first trans man in Iceland to have a baby

News
Icelandic Politician Objects To Eurovision Ban Of Palestinian Flag

Icelandic Politician Objects To Eurovision Ban Of Palestinian Flag

by

Eurovision has banned flying the Palestinian flag, amongst others, at the event, and one Icelandic politician is taking a personal

Show Me More!