Icelandic volcanoes could help to power UK via subsea Scottish cable

ICELAND has offered to become a “green battery” for the UK by building the world’s longest subsea power cable, which could bring geothermal energy ashore in Scotland.

ICELAND has offered to become a “green battery” for the UK by building the world’s longest subsea power cable, which could bring geothermal energy ashore in Scotland.

Icelandic state electricity producer, Landsvirkjun, said yesterday that it was considering constructing a 1,000km link by around 2020 to supply electricity generated by its vast volcanic energy resources direct to Britain.

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An earlier proposal to connect Iceland’s electricity grid with the UK would have come ashore north of the Border, but Landsvirkjun said yesteday no decision on the final route had been taken.

Hordur Arnarson, chief executive of Landsvirkjun, said: “We can serve as a green battery for the UK. We believe it’s a win-win situation, because we have a flexible source of renewable power, which could be used to balance supply and demand in Britain. It will be the longest subsea cable in the world.”

UK Government officials said the project was aimed at improving energy security for the entire UK, while environmental groups welcomed the prospect of the energy line.

WWF Scotland’s director, Lang Banks, said the initiative could be the first in a raft of similar links allowing Scotland to share green energy with the rest of Europe to combat global warming.

He said: “If Scotland and the rest of Europe are to move to a 100 per cent renewable future then greater use of interconnectors is a sensible way forward.

“If this comes to pass, then one day we could be tapping into ‘volcano power’ from Iceland or solar power from Greece, while on other days France or Poland could be benefiting from wind or wave power from Scotland.

“Sharing different renewable resources between nations will help drive down climate emissions much faster than relying on domestic action alone. However, it shouldn’t be an excuse for any country not to halt the development their own renewable capacity.

“A European-wide ‘supergrid’ would also bring the double benefits of security of supply and a reduced need to build lots of expensive new nuclear or fossil fuel power stations,” he added.

The project was first explored more than half a century ago but was scrapped because it was deemed too expensive.

At that time, the planned link would have connected Iceland to the Western Isles.

A cable connection is being looked at again now because of growing demand for low-carbon energy and increasing regulations over renewable power.

A spokesman for Landsvirkjun said last night: “No decision has been made where the cable would connect in the UK.”

A statement from Landsvirkjun also read: “The first proposal to connect Iceland’s electricity grid with Scotland’s, via a submarine cable was first introduced over 60 years ago.

“Research showed that such a project would be technically possible but would not be a profitable endeavour.

“New research conducted by Landsvirkjun between 2009 and 2010 shed new light on the potential of such a project; that it could in fact be economically viable. The main rationale behind this shift was higher electricity prices in Europe and an increased demand for renewable energy sources.”

Landsvirkjun has refused to reveal the cost of the link, which would take five years to construct and involve laying cable 3,000 metres underwater in some areas.

Iceland has a population of just 320,000, less than Edinburgh, but has vast geothermal power in its distinctive volcanic landscape.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We recognise that there are emerging and existing technologies which have yet to make a substantial impact on the energy landscape in Scotland.