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
Palestinian Ambassador To Visit Iceland

Palestinian Ambassador To Visit Iceland

by

On the 3rd anniversary of Iceland recognising the state of Palestine, the Palestinian ambassador to Iceland (who resides in Oslo, Norway) will be speaking at a special event arranged by the Iceland-Palestine Association. The event which coincides with the UN’s annual day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, will start at 14:00 and is open to all. The ambassador, Mufeed Shami, Iceland’s ambassador to Palestine, María Erla Marelsdóttir, will be speaking at the event and singer Ragnheiður Ólafsdóttir will be performing. As reported, immediately following the meeting at Iðnó, a launch party for Fyrir Gaza will start. Fyrir Gaza is a charity

News
Bárðarbunga Probably Won’t Erupt After All

Bárðarbunga Probably Won’t Erupt After All

by

The Bárðarbunga caldera has sunk by only 50 metres since the Holuhraun eruption began three months ago, indicating that it will not erupt, reports RÚV. Holuhraun on the other hand, continues to erupt and shows no signs of stopping. Scientists with the Institute of Earth Sciences flew over Bárðarbunga and Holuhraun yesterday to collect new data and investigate the likelihood of an eruption at Bárðarbunga caldera. Currently the Holuhraun eruption is fed by lava from underneath Bárðarbunga volcano. “Yes we believe that it’s likely [there will be no eruption in the Bárðarbunga caldera] and that the results we collected on our

News
Proposed Law Defines Minister’s Emergency Decree Powers

Proposed Law Defines Minister’s Emergency Decree Powers

by

On Wednesday, amendments to the Law on civil protection were proposed on Alþingi, defining a Minister’s powers to rule by decree in case of emergencies. This was reported by RÚV. The Minister involved would be any minister in charge of civil protection. Traditionally, this would mean the Minister of the Interior. Currently, however, Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson resides over such affairs. According to the proposed amendments, when the Police’ Civil Protection unit declares a state of emergency, the Minister can temporarily presume direct control of any business or institution considered vital to secure basic services. That is, to ensure

News
Hamborgarafabrikkan Takes Foie Gras Off The Menu

Hamborgarafabrikkan Takes Foie Gras Off The Menu

by

Popular hamburger joint, Hamborgarafabrikkan (The Hamburger Factory) has taken foie gras off their menu following a complaint on their Facebook page, reports RÚV. The complaint asked the restaurant if they weren’t willing to stop participating in and promoting “one of the most damaging animal abuse practices in the world by taking it off the menu.” “French duck liver is definitely a very controversial food and we knew that when we put it on our menu,” said restaurant owner Jóhannes Ásbjörnsson. “The pairing of beef and duck liver is popular and accessible in restaurants across the world. However, in light of this

News
Attempt To Smuggle Cocaine Thwarted

Attempt To Smuggle Cocaine Thwarted

by

A traveller was arrested at Keflavík airport trying to smuggle 24 packets of cocaine into the country, reports DV. The man, in his thirties, flew in from London and was stopped while trying to leave through customs. The Suðurnes police have taken the man into custody where he will stay until next Friday and the 24 packets – weighing approximately 120 grams – have been confiscated.

News
Police Still Getting Guns

Police Still Getting Guns

by

The highly disputed machine guns, recently acquired from Norway, only to be returned, will be replaced with weaponry from elsewhere, says the National Comissioner of the Icelandic Police (NCIP). This was reported today, Wednesday. In a response to inquiries made by RÚV, NCIP said that estimates made within the police, have shown that their need for weapons has increased in recent years. New weapons will be acquired, this time with the direct involvement of the Ministry of the Interior. The MP5 machine guns from Norway are to be returned because of disputes between the two countries as two whether they

Show Me More!