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LONDON – Icelandic volcanoes soon could power British homes if the UK government secures a new energy deal.
Energy minister Charles Hendry will visit Iceland in May to negotiate an agreement that would mean laying hundreds of miles of cables underwater to satisfy the UK's energy needs.
The cables, known as interconnectors, would carry low-carbon energy harvested from Iceland's geothermal sources such as volcanoes and geysers.
The plan could supply a third of the nation's average electricity demand.
"We are looking to a low-carbon economy. I think the best way is to get a number of different interconnectors first," Hendry said late Thursday.
The copper cables would need to be up to 932 miles (1,500 kilometers) long to reach Iceland -- the longest in the world.
Hendry said Iceland's geothermal energy prices would be negotiated on long-term contracts.
"We want to give consumers a clearer and more predictable idea of what they will have to pay," he said.
If agreed, the project could be up and running before 2020, Hendry added. The project is part of the European Union's pledge to have 20 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by the next decade.
Icelandic interconnectors have been discussed for decades but were deemed too expensive. However, rising energy prices in Europe have made the proposal feasible.
Iceland is keen to export energy after suffering a blow in the global financial crisis when its major banks collapsed at the end of 2008. The country has been seeking ways to move its economy away from dependence on the financial sector and fishing.