UK could be powered by Iceland volcanoes

The UK and Iceland signed a deal this week that could see geothermal power harnessed from Icelandic volcanoes supply the UK with energy. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will also see the two nations work together to develop gas and oil resources and explore the possibility of electricity interconnection.

“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,” UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry said after signing the MoU on Wednesday (May 30) alongside his Icelandic counterpart Oddný G. Harðardóttir. “This sort of approach can both enhance our energy security and deliver low carbon electricity in an affordable way,” Hendry added.

Engineered geothermal system (EGS) technology harnesses the earth’s natural energy by pumping water into wells of thousands of metres deep so it can be warmed on hot rocks and used as a sustainable and low carbon power source.

As the MoU was signed this week, a new report was published showing that the UK itself has enough geothermal energy under the ground to provide 20 percent of its electricity needs. The geothermal sector in Britain is now concerned that the new deal with Iceland will mean they will not be given the funds they need to harness energy domestically.

“We don’t want to be left out of a global industry which is estimated to be worth £30 billion by 2020. We could be at the forefront of this industry given the strength of British engineering skills,” Dr Ryan Law, chair of the Renewable Energy Association Deep Geothermal Group, said in a report by Greenwise Business.