Plans of connecting the Icelandic power grid to the European mainland need some environmental consideration, says Minister of Industry.
“We have to realize the potential environmental impact such a project may have,” minister Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir told Bloomberg. “It’s not just a question of plugging the cable into the next available socket.”
The idea is to build a 1,170 km long submarine sea cable between Iceland and the UK, carrying 700-1,100 megawatts. It would be the longest link of its kind, Bloomberg reports, and the estimated annual export revenue ranges from 4 billion to 76 billion ISK.
Ragnheiður is also concerned about the uncertainty about the profit. “A divide that large can’t be used as the basis for a firm decision, although it makes for a good first step in information gathering.” So a second study will be ordered by the government before another step will be taken towards the huge project.
The government estimates that 75% of Iceland’s energy is undeveloped, according to Bloomberg. Hydropower from its glaciers accounts for about 73% of electricity production and the rest is generated from geothermal sources. About 39% of the available geothermal energy, which taps the earth’s heat, is used to make electricity.
The island produced 17.2 terawatt-hours of electricity last year, of which 79% went to power three aluminium smelters and a ferrosilicon smelter. Output could be doubled, or tripled, depending on whether Iceland exploits environmentally sensitive areas, the National Energy Authority estimates.
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