One of the biggest challenges faced by the communities of the Westfjords of Iceland is to secure electricity. The region is not self-sufficient with electricity and needs to “import” electricity from other parts of Iceland. Only one power line drives electricity to the region and it lies over high mountains. As the northerly location of the region implies it often faces severe weather conditions and the mountaintops can be hazardous during winter storms.
This is an ongoing challenge which was recently addressed at a conference attended by most of the major stakeholders both local and national. The Minister of Industries and Innovation, Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir, responsible for energy affairs in Iceland on behalf of the government, was among speakers at the conference. In her speech she expressed an interest on behalf of the national government to solve the issues pertaining to creating a more sustainable energy production in the Westfjords.
Other speakers came from the public energy institutions, Landsnet which operate Iceland’s electricity transmission grid, National Energy Authority, Orkubú Vestfjarða (Westfjord Power Company) and energy entrepreneurs in the region.
All evidence points towards increasing demand for electricity in the region. Speakers at the conference agreed that it´s possible to harness more hydro energy. Really good options are available in hydro electricity production in the region but the problem is that they are far away from the main grid. This distance is among the main issues the national government and local actors need to solve. The conference was a small milestone where the stakeholders had a successful discussion on the topic and how it is possible to overcome that barrier.