One fascinating thing about Iceland is the huge amount of power that sits underneath its surface. Geothermal energy is used to heat entire towns in the winter, and more than 81% of the country’s energy use comes from cheap, clean energy from domestic sources.
Iceland has become the leading exporter of geothermal expertise, according to the Scientific American — a skill that influential people like Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao are keen to learn. Unfortunately exporting the energy itself has proved more difficulty – geothermal energy can’t be shipped as easily as oil.
The country is looking into plans to build the world’s biggest underground electricity cable some 745 miles (1198 km) long to export some of that wonderful clean energy. The project would aim to export five terawatt-hours (or five billion kilowatt-hours) each year, AFP reports — enough to cover the average annual consumption of 1.25 million households.
The plan is even bigger in scope, however. As Ars Technica notes, it could be the beginning of a “European super grid” where countries, all connected, could trade off their renewable energy surpluses with neighbours when their own renewable sources fail to produce.
Perhaps the most ambitious plan so far is the DESERTEC plan for a web of connections between Europe and North Africa’s renewable sources. Unfortunately this plan would cost $500 billion, but reports suggest it could provide some 15 per cent of Europe’s energy needs.
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