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Iceland is Far Ahead of EU’s Renewable Energy Targets

In 2012, energy from renewable sources within the European Union (EU) was estimated to have contributed 14.1% of gross final energy consumption in the Union, compared with 8.3% in 2004 (the first year for which this data is available).

EU-Energy-Renewable-Sources-Share_2004-2012The share of renewables in gross final energy consumption is one of the headline indicators of the Europe 2020 strategy. The target to be reached by 2020 for the EU is a share of 20% renewable energy use in gross final energy consumption. The national targets take into account the EU’s Member States’ different starting points, renewable energy potential and economic performance.

Since 2004, the share of renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy grew in all the EU Member States. The highest shares of renewable energy in final energy consumption in 2012, within the EU Member States, was found in Sweden (51.0% of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy), and the lowest in Malta (1.4%), Luxembourg (3.1%), the United Kingdom (4.2%) and the Netherlands (4.5%).

EU-Iceland-gross-final-energy-consumption-renewable-share-2012-and 2020-targetsIn 2011, Estonia was the first EU Member State to reach its 2020 target and in 2012 Bulgaria, Estonia and Sweden already achieved their 2020 targets (16%, 25% and 49% respectively). Since 2004, the share of renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy grew in all the EU Member States. The largest increases during this period were recorded in Sweden (from 38.7% in 2004 to 51.0% in 2012), Denmark from 14.5% to 26.0%), Austria (from 22.7% to 32.1%), Greece (from 7.2% to 15.1%) and Italy (from 5.7% to 13.5%).

This is a good progress. However, this is very far from the share of renewable energy in Iceland, which now account for close to 76% of the gross final consumption of all energy in the country (already higher than the 2020 target of 72%). See further information in the Icelandic National Renewable Energy Action Plan (published in December 2012).

Upcoming Silicon Plant and New Hydropower Station

The National Power Company of Iceland, Landsvirkjun, will provide electricity to a new power a metallurgical grade silicon metal production plant being, built by German PCC Group. The plant is to be constructed in Bakki near Húsavík on Northeast Iceland.

PCC-Silicon-logoPCC Group is a privately owned industrial holding and participation company based in Duisburg in Germany. The group operates in 16 countries with a total workforce of around 2,800 employees. PCC’s silicon plant in Iceland will be a 32,000 ton facility and is scheduled to start operating in early 2017. It will require 58 MW of power, which will be derived entirely from the renewable energy sources of Icelandic hydro and geothermal power. The contract is subject to certain conditions set to be finalised later this year. These include the appropriate licensing and permit requirements, financing for the project, as well as the approval of the Boards of both parties.

The Icelandic Landsvirkjun is one of Europe’s leading renewable energy companies. Landsvirkjun is Iceland’s largest generator of electricity, currently operating 16 renewable hydro- and geothermal power stations, producing approximately 75% of all electricity in Iceland. The company has for over 45 years generated renewable electricity from hydro, geothermal and onshore wind power sources.

Budarhals-Landsvirkjun-Hydropower-Iceland-WinterRecently, Landsvirkjun was also starting up its newest hydropower station in Iceland. This is the Búðarháls Hydropower Station, and the official start-up ceremony was on March 7th (2014). The Búðarháls Station is Landsvirkjun’s 16th power station and the seventh largest power station owned and operated by Landsvirkjun. This new station utilises the 40 metre head in the Tungnaá River from the tail water of the Hrauneyjafoss Hydropower Station to the Sultartangi Reservoir. The installed capacity of the Búðarháls Hydropower Station is 95 MW and it will generate approximately 585 GWh of electricity per year for the national grid. Most of the electricity added by Búðarháls has already been purchased by long term agreement with Rio Tinto Alcan’s smelter in Straumsvík in Southwestern Iceland.

Study on Cost of IceLink: 2.7 billion USD

The cost of a 1,200 MW HVDC electric submarine cable between Iceland and the United Kingdom (UK) is likely to be GBP 1.58-1.68 billion (USD 2.63-2.80 billion). This includes the cable (with a capacity of 1,200 MW), converters, cable mobilization, and installation. These cost-figures are presented in a research paper from 2010; Proposed Iceland / UK (Peterhead) 1.2 GW HVDC Cable. The authors are three engineers; Thomas J. Hammons from University of Glasgow in Scotland, Egill Benedikt Hreinsson from University of Iceland, and Piotr Kacejko from Lublin University of Technology in Poland.

LV-HVDC-Iceland-UK-London-august-2012-2The subject of the paper is a 1,200 MW connector from Iceland to a landing point at Peterhead Scotland (a distance of 1,170km). The paper addresses market considerations with cost of electricity in UK (from new offshore and inland wind power, gas, coal, and nuclear), investments for the development of hydro resources in Iceland, investments for submarine cables and converter plant, and overall capacity of the link. Also reviewed by the authors, is the exploration of deep unconventional geothermal resources in Iceland that could be harnessed in future and developed for the IceLink. The economics, availability, and reliability of geothermal plants are reviewed. [The slide above is from a recent presentation by the Icelandic power company Landsvirkjun}

According to the paper, there should be no major difficulties in the manufacture and laying of submarine cables of length and type necessary for the IceLink connector. What is no less interesting is the finding that the cost of delivered energy would be very competitive with offshore and onshore wind, and of new coal/gas and nuclear plant. Also, the connection would offer high reliability; at least equal to that of new coal/gas and nuclear plant in the UK.

The main conclusions are as follows:

  1. Cost of electricity delivered would be very competitive with that from new wind-farms, nuclear, modern gas/coal fired plant, and tidal barrage / tidal stream power.
  2. Availability of the connection should at least equal that from nuclear, and gas/coal fired plant.
  3. No major difficulties are anticipated in manufacturing, laying and repairing the submarine cables or in construction of hydro schemes for the Link.
  4. Expected life for hydro developments is at least 60 years, submarine cables 50 years, and rectifier/inverter stations 30-40 years.
  5. The link could be considerably expanded in future to utilize deep-well geothermal power when the technology is proven.
  6. The contribution would make a significant contribution towards UK and European targets for renewable energy. The development would benefit the Icelandic economy, rather than demanding huge amounts out of a heavily damaged economy without supporting necessary recovery.
  7. The Icelandic hydroelectric system is likely to be a perfect match for interacting with the UK/North sea wind energy resources in a similar way as the Norwegian hydroelectric power system.
  8. The HVOC UK-Iceland link can serve partly as a one­ way exporter of hydroelectric or geothermal energy from Iceland to the UK or it can be considered as a short term bilateral medium for hourly interaction of hydro with marketslwind based on market signals or short term shadow prices. This dual role should be further defined in a negotiation process between the respective national authorities.

IceLink-Study-University-of-Iceland-2010The study can be downloaded here (pdf) from the website of University of Iceland.