The United Kingdom and Iceland agreed this week to “explore options” in regards to constructing a sub-sea electricity interconnector that would allow Britain to utilize Iceland’s vast geothermal energy resources. If completed, the interconnector would become the longest in the world.
UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry said in a statement following the partnership announcement, “Today’s agreement will help pave the way for a closer relationship with Iceland, which I hope can yield significant benefits for the UK, including the development of geothermal power, greater use of interconnectors to transport energy under the sea, and developing oil and gas resources.”
This is not the first time Britain has partnered with neighboring countries to tap into new energy sources: interconnectors to France and the Netherlands brings about 3.5 gigawatts (GW) of electricity into the UK from those countries. That’s about the same as the power generated from 3 to 4 average European nuclear power plants. Additionally, a similar interconnector joining Ireland and Britain is already under construction.
Reuters reports that to bring in “geothermal power from Icelandic volcanoes could be exported to UK homes via a link that would require the world’s longest power cable – stretching 1,800 kilometres (1,125 miles) on the seabed of the North Atlantic at depths of up to 3,000 metres (9,840 feet).”
Ultimately, the UK could draw as much as 10 GW of power from interconnections to neighboring countries, that is if plans for pacts similar to the Icelandic agreement go through with Belgium, Norway, Spain, and the Channel Islands (among others). Britain would also like to expand its current connections to France in the near future.