• Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set

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    Above is the newly built geothermal power plant at Hellisheidi east of Reykjavík at sunrise.

    Edward Elgar’s magnificent patriotic anthem was never intended for any other country than our own but the above line appears to be apposite to the E.U.’s grandiose aims.

    Following the financial crash, Iceland’s bid to join the EU got off to a fast start. The European Commission will now prepare a report on Iceland. Iceland will not have to wait as long as such as the Balkan countries, as it already has an advanced market economy and stable, democratic institutions, two key conditions for membership. Once they have received the report, the European council and parliament will decide whether to accept Iceland as an official candidate. Only then can formal negotiations begin on the terms of membership, a process that could take another year or two. If the EU accepts Iceland, the country will hold a referendum on the question.

    Barroso has welcomed Iceland’s decision, calling it a “….sign of the vitality of the European project and indicative of the hope that the European Union represents….”

    To quote Mandy Rice-Davis, “Well he would, wouldn’t he?”

    Iceland has two significant natural resources. The first is a resource familiar to us in Britain – fish. Iceland has Europe’s richest fishing grounds, which, due to the sensible management of her stocks have not been depleted by large numbers of Spanish fishermen.

    Of course, Iceland’s politicians will attempt to keep this resource to themselves. Of course the E.U. will demand Iceland give this up. Iceland’s parlous financial condition and her wish to join the Eurozone on entry mean that her negotiating position is weak.

    There is however another natural resource of very great future potential – geothermal power.

    In the present political climate with the adherence of the E.U.’s leaders to the new faith of human induced/anthropogenic global warming, the search is on for a “low carbon” source of power. Geothermal power has several advantages over the others:
    - windmills – no wind – no power – needs conventional back-up.
    - nuclear – political problems here
    - tidal – tidal barrages are very expensive and take a long time to build.
    - photo-voltaic – impractical.
    - solar towers – expensive and you need a desert.

    Iceland has huge potential for generating geothermal power. To describe geothermal power to the layman, I would suggest imagine a coal fired power station – but without the coal. Instead of burning coal the heat is found by pumping sea water down a shaft to a geo-thermal heat source. The heat energy is transferred from sea-water to closed system boiler water via a heat exchanger. The boiler then generates steam in the conventional manner which is then used to generate electricity – again in the conventional manner – steam turbines.

    Iceland has the potential to generate a significant proportion of UK base load. Were the UK to construct the Severn barrage and the Morecambe Bay barrage, this would go a long way to fulfilling UK electricity needs. Given this huge ongoing potential revenue source, Icelanders should look beyond their short term difficulties. Membership of the European Union is not the answer to Iceland’s problems.

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