While the notion of Iceland exporting electricity seems to be moving closer to being a reality, an engineer points out that its execution will not be as easy as some assume.
As reported, there has been a growing interest in the idea of Iceland generating electricity that would be sent via undersea cable to the UK and Europe. Last year, the Ministry of Industry concluded that the country could produce up to 50 terawatts of electricity through hydropower and geothermal energy. By comparison, the country’s total electricity consumption is at 17 terawatts. Some amount of the unused potential could, the ministry said, be exported to other countries via undersea cable.
The idea was raised again earlier this year, when the national power company Landsvirkjun issued a public statement advising that Iceland explore this path, and the Guardian reported that Charles Hendry is coming to Iceland in May to get a better look at the actual logistics of the idea.
RÚV reports that Unnur Stella Guðmundsdóttir, an engineer for the Danish company Energy Net and an expert in cables, points out that the concept is not so simple.
For one, the cable would be about 1,000 to 1,500 kilometres long – the longest in the world. Second, it would lay about 1,200 metres below the surface of the sea. Only one cable is deeper – the one between Sardina and Italy, at about 1,600 kilometres, but is also not nearly as long as the proposed Iceland-UK cable.
For this reason, extra care will need to be taken that the cable will still be fully functional despite the length, and despite the depth at which it would lie.