World's longest underwater electric cable to connect Iceland and Europe
Giant cable will allow Iceland to share its vast geothermal and volcanic energy resources with mainland Europe.
Tue, Mar 08 2011 at 4:41 AM
VOLCANO POWER: The Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Plant is the second largest geothermal power station in Iceland. (Photo: Gretar Ívarsson/Wiki Commons/public domain)
Iceland's immense volcanic and geothermal resources were on display to the world when the Eyjafjallajökull volcano violently erupted in 2010, shutting down airports across Europe. Now the island nation is looking to build the world's longest undersea electric cable so that it can sell some of that geothermal energy to the rest of the world, according to Physorg.com.
"This project started last year and the current phase of research should be finished by the end of the year," said Ragna Sara Jonsdottir, a spokesperson for Landsvirkjun, Iceland's largest electric company.
The energy infrastructure of Iceland is one of the cleanest in the world, capable of producing 100 percent of its electricity from homegrown renewable energy resources such as hydro and geothermal. But since thousands of kilometers of open ocean separate the island nation from mainland Europe, sharing those clean energy resources has so far been impossible.
Building a giant cable to connect Iceland with Europe would change all of that, but such a project would also be a monumental engineering feat. Depending on the destination country, the cable would need to be between 1,200 and 1,900 kilometers (745-1,180 miles) long, which would make it "the longest sub-sea cable in the world."
"Among things being studied is the destination country. Potential countries include Britain, Norway, Holland and Germany," Jonsdottir said.
The proposed cable would be capable of exporting around five terawatt-hours (or five billion kilowatt-hours) each year, which is enough to power around 1.25 million European households. That cashes out to around 250 and 320 million euros in exports annually for Iceland, a nation which was hit hard by the global financial crisis. The project would certainly be a boon for Landsvirkjun, since the state-owned electric company produces about 75 percent of all electricity in Iceland.
Iceland's geothermal resources are so immense that the nation intends to be completely energy independent by 2050. Aside from a small percentage of electricity which comes from natural gas, and a transportation industry which still leans heavily on foreign oil, Iceland is already well on its way toward meeting that goal.
Perhaps the world's longest underwater cable will help promote the benefits of renewable energy to the rest of Europe too.