European supergrid could power UK with foreign green energy
Soon Wales will receive wind energy generated off the coast of Ireland via high voltage cables spanning the bottom of the Irish Sea.
There is already a link between the UK and the Netherlands via the BritNed cable and by 2019 a 900km interconnector between Norway and the UK should be completed, supplying energy from a clever pump storage system powered by wind turbines. Another connector between the UK and France is already in existence, with two more proposed, although one involves nuclear power.
The most interesting and by far longest cable proposed would link the UK power grid with geothermal power from Iceland.
From the Guardian:
Interconnectors are the cheapest way of backing up wind, because you avoid the greater capital cost of building power stations. We will of course be buying power in when the wind is not blowing, but the interconnectors mean we can sell our wind power when it does, and we have the best wind resource in Europe.
–Doug Parr, Greenpeace
Since Iceland’s volcanoes generate more geothermal energy than the small nation can use, the island country has also been trying to attract mega data centers to relocate there. Iceland sees powering data centers with cheap renewable energy as a greener way to harness its geothermal power than for running aluminum smelters, as is mostly the case today.
From Discover Magazine:
[…] data centers, which store information people put in the cloud and handle processing tasks that keep the Internet chugging along, are huge energy users. Their demand for electricity is growing by leaps and bounds, with some estimates holding that by 2020, they will use quadruple the energy they did in 2007.
And that power needs to come from somewhere.