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Green power from Iceland

October 7, 2002, 16:15 CEST

Opportunities for exporting geothermal electricity from Iceland to Norway, the UK or both of these countries are being studied by Statoil.

The group recently signed a letter of intent with Norwegian grid operator Statnett and Iceland’s Landsvirkjun on producing a feasibility study for a 600 MW power station by next spring.

“We’re considering this because of our desire to participate in renewable energy projects where we have relevant expertise,” says Hanne Lekva, head of the new energy business development unit.

Geothermal heat from 1-2,000 metres below ground will be brought to the surface to drive turbines, which in turn run electricity generators.

A station would be able to generate about five terawatt-hours per year, which corresponds to four-five per cent of Norway’s annual hydropower output.

If the plans are implemented, the required submarine power cable will be 1,200 kilometres long – but the energy loss over this distance is only about six per cent.

Preliminary assessments show that the project can compete with other types of renewable energy. But geothermal power from Iceland is not competitive at today’s electricity prices.

“Our commitment is based on a growth in ‘green certificates’,” says Lekva. “We believe this type of electricity will be commercially attractive in the rather longer term.”

A growing number of European countries are demanding that electricity suppliers sell a certain amount of renewable energy.