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Iceland’s Clean Energy Is a Hot Commodity for Europe

Iceland has so much geothermal energy that it might build the world’s longest undersea electric cable just to share it with the rest of Europe.

geothermal plant

Anyone who witnessed the wrath of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano last year knows that the country possesses ample geothermal resources. Iceland has so much geothermal energy, in fact, that it might build the world’s longest undersea electric cable just to share energy with the rest of Europe.

Iceland anticipates complete energy independence by 2050 thanks to its wealth of geysers and volcanos. Approximately 81% of its energy already comes from renewable resources, and 85% of all homes are heated by geothermal energy. The recent discovery of Iceland’s underground lava means that even more of the country’s power could be produced geothermally.

The giant undersea cable is being proposed by Landsvirkjun, Iceland’s biggest energy company. If built, the cable would be between 745 and 1,180 miles long and export five billion kilowatt-hours of power each year. That’s between $350 million and $448 million worth of energy–enough to cover the consumption of 1.25 million homes, according to the AFP.

Currently, Iceland’s economy is largely dependent on fishing. But if it is completed, the undersea cable could trigger the growth of a major new economic sector in Iceland: exported energy. With a growing demand for clean power across Europe and the rest of the world, that could make Iceland’s resources a hot (pun intended) commodity.

Follow Fast Company on Twitter. Ariel Schwartz can be reached by email.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

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