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Powerline from Iceland to UK have moved a step closer

17/02/2014 | By | Reply More

Powerline linking Iceland and the UK – London financier says funding is in place


Plans to build the world’s longest undersea power cable have moved a step closer after a former London banker said his had gathered the support of investors for the IceLink project, linking Iceland and the UK.

If built, the 1,000km IceLink powerline would provide 2 million British homes with electricity produced in Iceland. The project would cost an estimated £4 billion ($6,7 billion – € 4,9 billion).

London financier Edmund Truell is laying ambitious plans to build the world’s longest undersea power cable, in a bid to power British homes with electricity routed from Iceland. He says funding is in place, should Icelandic parliament allow feasibility study to proceed the IceLink project.


Possible routes of the submarine cable between Iceland and Europe

Mr. Truell was appointed by mayor Boris Johnson to run the London Pension Funds Authority last year.

He has already approached a number of pension fund investors in Canada and the US to corral the £4 billion of cash needed to fund the ambitious scheme.

The project, dubbed IceLink, will see the creation of an underwater cable running over 620 miles.

It would dwarf the current record holder, the Norway to Netherlands power cable, which runs to 360 miles.

Quite a large cheque is required to fund it but it offers a reasonable economic return for investors over a long time period”, Mr. Truell told the news media – City A.M.

We think it’s cost efficient in the very long term and addresses the gap in the energy market where there’s still a risk in the future of the lights turning off if the wind isn’t blowing in the right direction”.

Mr. Truell has set up a company for the IceLink powerline project named Atlantic Supergrid Corporation, to help drive the plan, with MP Charles Hendry – a former UK energy minister – and seasoned infrastructure investor Graeme Bevans both on board.

Work is set to begin on a study of the seabed next April, with detailed plans on the feasibility of the proposal due in October 2014.

The UK has committed itself to increasing its use of renewable energy by 2020. Power flowing through the IceLink cable would be generated by geothermal sources and provide the equivalent of a single nuclear power station.

The investment push comes after the UK government signed a memorandum of understanding with the Icelandic government about sharing energy in 2012.

The IceLink project in nutshell

Q: What is the IceLink cable between the UK and Iceland?
A: Edmund Truell’s Atlantic Supergrid company wants to build a 1,000km high voltage direct current cable underneath the north Atlantic to transport 1.2 gigawatts of power from Iceland to two million UK homes by 2020. The cable is called the IceLink.

Q: Why would the UK need an underwater energy cable from Iceland?
A: The  UK has committed to increasing energy from low carbon technologies by 2020. The IceLink has low carbon emissions and the same energy as a nuclear power station.

Q: Has this kind of underwater energy cable plan been done before?
A: Yes, there is a HVDC cable taking power under the sea from Norway to the Netherlands. The world’s longest energy cable is in China, running 6.4 gigawatts 1,240 miles from Xiangjiaba to Shanghai

Q: How is this going to be funded and do Icelanders mind the UK using their power?
A: Mr. Truell is speaking with large pension fund investors and has recruited the ex-head of infrastructure at Canada Pension Plan on board. Iceland has an abundance of geothermal power and would benefit financially.

Below can you listen to speeches on the Iceland Energy Summit 2013, which was held on November 1. 2013, by the British-Icelandic Chamber of Commerce (BICC, Bresk-íslenska viðskiptaráðið) and hosted by Bloomberg in London, an discussion of possible powerline, its benefits and defects.

Speakers are MP Charles Hendry – a former UK Energy Minister, Hördur Árnarson – CEO of Landsvirkjun (National Power Company of Iceland) and Paul Johnson – Head of HVDC and Cables at National Grid.

Watch video – Courtesy BICC (The British Icelandic Chamber of Commerce)

Run time: 57 minutes.


A power link between Iceland and the UK has been discussed since the 1950s. They took on new seriousness in 2012, when the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding about energy sharing.

The cable is promoted as a way for Iceland to sell its surplus energy, but sceptics there, including Vigdís Hauksdóttir, an MP and chair of parliament’s budget committee, have expressed concern that the cable would serve as a two-way conduit that would allow the UK to sell power generated using fossil fuels to the island.

Minister of Industry in Iceland Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir told Bloomberg last year that “We have to realize the potential environmental impact such a project may have. It’s not just a question of plugging the cable into the next available socket“.


Category: Iceland

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