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Iceland and the UK are taking a serious look at the possibility of building a massive undersea cable that would bring Icelandic geothermal and hydroelectric power to the UK. The cable would bring power to the UK at 60 to 70 percent of the cost of offshore wind. Iceland enjoys some of the lowest electricity prices in Europe.
The plans being discussed involve laying 1,000 kilometres of undersea cable with a capacity of 1 Gigawatt (enough power to supply a medium-sized city).
The package is worth an estimated £4 billion when related generation and onshore transmission investments are factored in. The system could be operational by 2022.
“We are looking at this much more seriously than ever before” said Bjorgvin Sigurdsson, executive vice president of Landsvirkjun, the state-owned Icelandic power company. “The technology seems to be there to make it work; the issue is whether it makes sense financially.”
What’s in it for Iceland? One of the hurdles facing the plan is the people of Iceland itself. The Icelandic government must convince voters that there are benefits for the country. Icelanders are concerned that exposure to larger markets could increase domestic energy prices.
The idea of exporting energy from Iceland to the UK has been on the drawing board since the 1950s, but today’s technology could now make it feasible.