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Groundbreaking Seabed Geothermal Research Allowed

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Groundbreaking Seabed Geothermal Research Allowed

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Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

The National Energy Authority has granted North Tech Energy a license to locate and research geothermal energy on the seabed around Iceland. The company’s CEO says it could become one of the biggest energy projects ever embarked upon in Iceland.

North Tech Energy ehf. has been granted permits for geothermal research on the sea floor in two locations: one on the Reykjanes Ridge, and the other off North Iceland.

CEO Geir Brynjar Hagalínsson told Vísir that the project started out in Aberdeen in 2009, after he attended a respected professor’s lecture on energy matters in the UK.

The goal of the research is to find out if the underwater geothermal areas can be used for energy production.

The first part of the project is the search for suitable areas for heat exploration, but the license given North Tech Energy also gives the company priority for being granted a license to harvest the energy for electricity production, if these initial tests are successful.

Iceland’s geothermal areas spread far beyond its shorelines and harnessing this energy could lighten the load on terrestrial energy sources.

New energy projects in Iceland are controversial, because hydro dams and geothermal power stations invariably damage the local environment and degrade Iceland’s famous wilderness—especially when they are connected to the National Grid with overhead pylons.

Much like offshore wind farms in other countries, this proposal could potentially help Iceland expand its energy market in a less controversial way.

The research licenses last for three years and work is expected to start in June 2018.

Brynjar says that when he first came to the Energy Authority with his idea, he was greeted with polite-but-dismissive smiles. “But over the last two years they have worked hard on this with me.”

Geir actually grew up at a power station, as his father was manager of the Blönduvirkjun hydro plant in North Iceland. He has since worked for 20 years on high-heat drilling projects for oil and gas, both at sea and on land.

Geir says his objectives in setting up North Tech Energy are to protect Icelandic nature at the same time as increasing energy production. He believes fish are not as troubled by human activity at sea as land animals often are by infrastructure projects in their back yard. Some 300 jobs could be created if the project is successful.

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