* Iceland eyes electricity exports to Britain
* Final investment decision seen in 2015-2016
* 1,000 km cable would be in waters 3,000 metres deep
By Nerijus Adomaitis
OSLO, Jan 9 Iceland is considering building the
world's longest subsea power cable by around 2020 to take
advantage of its abundant geothermal energy to supply Britain
with green power, the head of the state-run electricity producer
"We can serve as a green battery for the UK," Hordur
Arnarson, the chief executive of Landsvirkjun said in an
"We believe it's a win-win situation, because we have a
flexible (source of) renewable power, which could be used to
balance (supply and demand in Britain)," Arnarson said in an
interview. "It will be the longest subsea cable in the world."
The project, previously considered economically unviable, is
back in the frame because of rising demand for low-carbon energy
and regulations favouring renewable power.
A government-appointed committee will deliver a report on
the project this year, and Landsvirkjun expects to make a final
investment decision on the 1,000 kilometre subsea cable by
2015-2016, Arnarson said.
Tiny Iceland, with a population of just 320,000, has plenty
of geothermal power thanks to its volcanic formations. McKinsey
& Co estimates it is harnessing only 20 to 25 percent of its
hydro and geothermal energy potential.
The consultancy added that Iceland should explore exporting
renewable power to Europe as part of a strategy for broad-based
economic growth to recover from a ruinous banking crash.
The proposed cable would also allow Landsvirkjun to step out
of its small domestic market.
In a potential risk to the project, Britain still has an
outstanding dispute with Reykjavik over the 2008 collapse of
Landsbanki's Icesave unit. Iceland still faces court action for
failing to compensate depositors in Britain and the Netherlands
Arnarson declined to cite a figure for the costs of
construction, which would take five years and would entail
laying cable 3,000 meters underwater in some areas.
The longest subsea cable currently in operation is the 580
kilometre NorNed link from Norway to the Netherlands, which was
completed in 2008 and cost 600 million euros ($784 million).
Arnarson said the country's hydro and geothermal plants
already could produce 10 percent more than the current levels of
around 17.5 terawatt-hours in 2012.
Norway, which also gets almost all of its electricity from
hydro power, plans to build a 700 kilometre power link to UK by