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By the end of the year, the Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) will create the hottest hole in the world to extract geothermal energy from magma flows in Reykjanes, according to a New Scientist report.
The rig is currently in the process of drilling five kilometers into the Earth to exploit the planet’s inner heat at an unprecedented rate. Typical geothermal wells produce 5 MW of electricity, but, if the new well succeeds, it would generate 10 times more energy than previous ventures.
“People have drilled into hard rock at this depth, but never before into a fluid system like this,” says Albert Albertsson, assistant director of HS Orka, the company heading the IDDP.
The drilling will create a hole that hits temperatures between 400 to 1000 degrees Celsius on a landward extension of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at the division between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
Iceland derives 100 percent of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources, with hydroelectric power illuminating three-fourths of the country’s homes and businesses.
The country also hosts a series of geothermal plants, but none that would match the generative power of IDDP if it succeeds, according to the project’s designers.
“If they can get supercritical steam in deep boreholes, that will make an order of magnitude difference to the amount of geothermal energy the wells can produce,” says Arnar Guðmundsson of the government agency Invest in Iceland.
Iceland’s first “magma-enhanced” geothermal Icelandic Deep Drilling Project IDDP-1 well at Krafla was proclaimed successful in 2014, when operators unexpectedly drilled into magma while boring an exploratory well.
The Krafla IDDP-1 borehole demonstrated that it’s possible to drill down to molten magma and retain technical control, and inserting a steel-casing at the bottom of the hole proved viable, allowing for the utilization of hot, high-pressure steam for months at temperatures exceeding 450° Celcius, a global record for geothermal heat capture.
Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…