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%.
The Netherlands has sold its claims on the estate of the failed Icelandic bank Landsbanki to Deutsche Bank, reports RÚV. “I am pleased that the sale has enabled the Dutch state to get its money back quickly,” Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem told Bloomberg. The Dutch Finance ministry has now recouped all of the €1.43 billion euros ($1.89 billion) the country paid out to compensate Dutch depositors with Icesave accounts after Landsbanki failed in 2008. The Dutch Finance Ministry said the sale of the remaining claims to investors had yielded about €623 million euros.
Uncertainty about what is happening underneath Vatnajökull glacier continues following the appearance of fissures yesterday, reports RÚV. As reported, a flight observing the surface of Vatnajökull discovered a row of 10-15 m deep cauldrons, 1 km wide, south of the Bárðarbunga caldera. They form a 4-6 km long line. The cauldrons have been formed as a result of melting ice. Geophysicist Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson estimates that roughly 30-40 million cubic metres of glacial water has been produced but told RÚV that there is no evidence indicating an actual eruption at this time. Magnús Tumi believes it is possible that a minor eruption may have taken place in the
Seismic activity at and around the Bárðarbunga volcano has prompted authorities to call an urgent meeting to assess the situation. There is still no confirmation of an eruption. Earlier this evening, Tobias Dürig tweeted a photo of fissures in Holuhraun, next to Dyngjujökull, and southeast of Bárðarbunga, taken by a TF-SIF surveillance plane. Vísir reports the fissures are four to six kilometres long, and ten to fifteen metres deep. As Civil Protection in Iceland announced: “Scientists from the Icelandic Earth Science Institute, the Icelandic Meteorological Office and representatives from the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management were on a
Just two short years after opening up shop in London, the Hamborgarabúllan franchise was chosen by the Independent as the best in the city. After sampling many of the city’s numerous burger joints, and rating them both on their food and atmosphere, the Independent chose Tommi’s, as Hamborgarabúllan is known there, to be well ahead of the pack. “Although it looks like a cartoon hamburger, possibly from a tray carried by J. Wellington Wimpy, Tommi’s is currently producing the best patties in London,” the review reads in part. “In some ways it’s like something your dad would produce at a
In a still-unexplained mishap, all internet and telephone service for the southern half of the Westfjords dropped out for about seven hours. RÚV reports that at about 9:30 yesterday morning, phone and internet for Ísafjörður and the southern Westfjords inexplicably ceased to function. Even emergency services were affected by the glitch. It took seven hours to fix the problem, and Ísafjörður town council intends to file a formal request to know exactly what happened and why. “It is clear that Ísafjörður town coucil will demand answers on what happened,” Ísafjörður mayor Gísli Halldór Halldórsson told reporters. “But what is more
A tourist operator stumbled across a family wandering around on Langjökull glacier yesterday. Langjökull is quite dangerous for those unfamiliar with the area and has whirlpools reaching 100-200 metres down into the glacier. “I asked [the father] what he was doing,” the director of ICE Explorer, Arngrímur Hermannsson, told RÚV. “He answered: Am I maybe doing something I shouldn’t be doing?” The family of five, two adults and three children, had driven onto the glacier in a rented car and on roads typically used by tour companies driving eight-wheelers equipped for extreme weather. “This is the best way to get on Langjökull glacier and