From Iceland — Undersea Cable To Britain Takes Clearer Form

Undersea Cable To Britain Takes Clearer Form

Published July 13, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Wikimedia Commons

Considerable infrastructural changes and financing will be needed to make an undersea power cable from Iceland to Britain a reality.

Although the idea has been years in the works, we are only just now getting a clearer picture of the actual logistics that would be involved if Iceland were to start exporting electricity to Britain via an undersea cable, RÚV reports.

According to the findings of a government project manager examining the idea, Iceland would need to build power turbines with the equivalent output of two Kárahnjúkar dams, or about 1,400 megawatts, in order to export electricity to the UK. In addition, the total cost for the project will approach 800 billion ISK, meaning that Britain would need to make a considerable contribution to financing the cable.

Further, some costs would have to be transfered to Icelandic households. It is estimated that the cost of electricity in Iceland would need to raise from 0.85 to 1.7 ISK per kilowatt hour, translating into a household electricity bill increasing by 5% to 10%.

As reported, the idea of an undersea cable connecting Iceland and Britain has been bandied about for years now. Former British Minister of Energy Charles Hendry was particularly enthusiastic about the idea, saying in 2012 that “We will be dependent on imported energy”, and that the cables “are an absolutely critical part of energy security and for low carbon energy.”

Be that as it may, an undersea cable between the two island nations would be a tremendous undertaking. Unnur Stella Guðmundsdóttir, an engineer for the Danish company Energy Net and an expert in cables, pointed out in 2012 that 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.

In 2013, Minister of Industry Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir expressed concerns about the financial viability as well.

The government estimates that 75% of Iceland’s energy is undeveloped, according to Bloomberg. Hydropower 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.

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