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Knox College

Publication Date

Fall 2019

Program Name

Iceland: Climate Change and The Arctic


As climate change continues to threaten the future state of our world, we are searching for measures to take for mitigation. Among these measures, the most talked about method is the development of renewable energies. Great amounts of attention is paid to solar and wind power, but relatively little effort is given to researching the possibilities of ocean energy, particularly tidal barrage energy. This study assesses the possibility of a tidal barrage plant in Hvalfjörður, Iceland. This hypothetical power plant in Hvalfjörður would have an installed capacity of 840MWh and could produce 613GWh per year. This is less than 0.01% of Iceland’s annual energy usage. A number of environmental issues have been taken with tidal barrage plants such as sedimentation changes, impacts to the benthic habitat, noise pollution, reduced area of intertidal habitats, a rise in water level, and negative effects to water quality. If we assume that this plant would cost a similar amount to the two largest tidal barrage plants in the world, La Rance and Lake Sihwa, such a barrage plant might cost around 600 million USD. A tidal barrage plant built in Iceland is not advised. The risk to the wildlife of the fjord seems to be too great and the energy output is too low. Furthermore, an overwhelming majority of electricity generated in Iceland is renewable, so there is not enough coal or oil to displace. More feasibility studies in other parts of the world are necessary to examine the true potential for tidal power and other forms of ocean energy.


Climate | Energy Policy | Energy Systems | Environmental Sciences | Environmental Studies | Natural Resource Economics


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