Iceland may have fallen in the hole when the global recession hit, but the country could be soon emerging with one of the world’s largest energy sources. Iceland’s biggest energy company, Landsvirkjun, is planning on constructing the world’s longest underwater electric cable so that the country can sell its vast geothermal and volcanic energy to the rest of Europe. The sub-sea cable, if built, will have the potential to deliver as many as five terawatt-hours (5 billion kilowatt-hours) annually to the continent – this would be enough to power 1.25 million homes with clean energy.
The proposed Icelandic cable could extend as long as 1,180 miles, depending on its destination. The company is currently considering connections to some of the largest cities located in Britain, Norway, Holland, and Germany. At present, Landsvirkjun produces about 75 percent of Iceland’s electricity from geothermal sources.
The news also comes on the heels of a discovery made by scientists at the University of California-Davis and a team that was initially drilling a well as part of the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project. The team was originally searching for a source of hot water underground settled under high pressure that they hoped they could use as a source of energy. Instead they discovered a rich seam of the molten rock relatively close to the earth’s surface, and scientists believe that this bit of magma could be a new source of clean energy that could easily be harnessed for widespread use.
While the discovery was actually made in 2009, it’s taken years to test the magma. But today researchers believe that that steam could generate up to 25MW of energy, which is enough to power up to 30,000 homes. This accidental discovery also reveals that any place with young volcanic rocks, no matter where in the world, should give way to easy to find, reasonably shallow bodies of magma that could be used as energy sources.
It appears that Iceland could soon become the world’s next big powerhouse – literally!