but will also help Iceland save on its own fuel
costs. Even though Iceland’s power is generally
inexpensive, Europe’s actually becomes cheaper
at certain points during a 24-hour pricing cycle.
The cable would allow Iceland to buy European
energy at opportune times.
It would also put pressure on the three large
aluminum companies with operations in the
country to pay more.
But that logic doesn’t convince everyone.
Project proponents “are looking for easy
money, but who is going to pay in the end?” Lara
Hanna Einarsdottir, a popular Icelandic blogger,
told The New York Times. “We will all pay.”
By all calculations, the project will be expensive, requiring an estimated
initial investment of more than US$2 billion. The United Kingdom already
has two cable systems stretching to France and the Netherlands. The lat-
ter, which opened in 2011, is about 260 kilometers (162 miles long)—far
smaller than the proposed Icelandic cable—and cost about US$800 million
The not-for-profit group Invest in Iceland, based in Reykjavik, has called for
the government to use the country’s cheap, clean energy to attract foreign companies to set up shop within its borders, rather than exporting the power.
“Iceland’s geothermal infrastructure is highly reliable,” says Invest in
Iceland project manager Kristinn Haflidason. “It’s
also more than just electricity; a geothermal power
plant produces steam, hot water and cold water.
That’s ideal for green projects with high energy
needs, such as building data centers, industrial-
scale greenhouses and fish farms.”
Last year, 11 national environmental groups
issued a joint statement, warning that “the so-
called profit of constructing a sea cable has been
painted in bright colors as one of Iceland’s biggest-
ever business opportunities,” but that the project
would have “enormous environmental impact” due
to related construction of new power plants and
overhead power lines.
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