Iceland boasts between 20 and 30 active volcanoes, and due to this abundant geothermal activity has a thriving geothermal energy sector. The UK is currently looking into the possibility of importing this energy in an attempt to help it reach its renewable energy targets, and secure energy supplies to meet its future needs. The deal, if it goes ahead, will also greatly benefit Iceland whose banks failed back in 2008 as its economy collapsed. UK Energy Minister, Charles Hendry, said that the two governments are in discussions and that the Icelandic officials are “keen” on the idea.
In order to import the geothermal electricity a 1000-1500km interconnector will have to be built between Iceland and the UK, the longest in the world, and something that will prove to be a huge engineering challenge.
The UK government already has ambitious plans to connect its energy grid to other countries in Europe. They already have connections to Europe via the Netherlands and France, and another connection to Ireland will be completed this year. UK Ministers are also looking at the potential for connections to Norway and Belgium’s hydropower, the Channel Island’s tidal power, and France’s nuclear power.
Hendry said that the interconnecting cables “are an absolutely critical part of energy security and for low carbon energy.” They will be essential for keeping UK electricity prices competitive. The dense network of interconnectors will also reduce the need for traditional power stations to support renewable energy sources, because energy could be imported if domestic supply was low.
Tony Glover, head of press and public affairs at the Energy Networks Association, said that, “from an energy industry perspective interconnectors will be important in enabling renewable energy by providing a solution to wind intermittency. They also add diversity to our electricity mix and strengthen security of supply.”
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com