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Icelandic volcanoes to supply European Clean Energy

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:23 pm
by raspberry-blower
You may recall last year's exciting Icelandic saga, where all flights in and around Europe were closed.
Now, it looks like there is another use for them - providing clean electricity to the rest of Europe - first stop Scotland.
Europeans left stranded at airports last year as an Icelandic volcano spewed ash across the continent may soon benefit from the power that seethes beneath the remote north Atlantic island.

Iceland is doing a feasibility study into building a 1,170- kilometer (727-mile) power cable to Scotland to send some of its untapped potential 18 terawatt-hours of geothermal and hydropower -- that’s enough for 5 million European homes. The project has the full backing of the government, Industry Minister Katrin Juliusdottir said in an interview.

Posted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:48 am
by An Inspector Calls
This might not be as attractive as it seems.

Icealnd's economy is based largely on just two industries - fishing and tourism.

Most of Iceland has very low rainfall. The interior, behind the southern mountains, is desert - about 16" of rainfall p.a. Dust storms are common in the summer. Most/all of the hydro is from spring meltwater and lasts about 2 months. To stretch this across a year requires the construction of reservoirs. The last big one they built was to the east of Snaefell, in a very remote, but beautiful area. There were many protests against this, not just in Iceland. (I thought the PowerSWitch brigade were anti-large reservoirs). Most of the electricity from that new reservoir goes to power a smelter, so you could question the wisdom of losing the hiking area beside Snaefell in order to provide 100 jobs at a smelter. To sell a useful energy source to Europe they're going to have to build more reservoirs.

To my knowledge they have one large geothermal plant at Myvatn, next to the Krafla volcano. Half the output goes to the industrial extraction of diatoms (for filters) from Myvatn lake. It's beset by power disruptions caused by activity within the volcanoe, but they get about 150 MW from it.

Then there's the power line to the UK. It's not much use to us in northern Scotland, so really they'd need to land their power somewhere around Glasgow. It's a long way, and there's the problem of s deep, steep-sided ocean trough on the way.

Let's see what happens, but don't hold your breath.