Iceland drills 4.7 km down into volcano to tap clean energy

Posted: May 5, 2017 by oldbrew in Energy, innovation, volcanos
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World’s hottest borehole, Iceland [credit: BBC]


Not much oil or gas, but plenty of steam available for use in Iceland as Phys.org reports.

It’s named after a Nordic god and drills deep into the heart of a volcano: “Thor” is a rig that symbolises Iceland’s leading-edge efforts to produce powerful clean energy.

If successful, the experimental project could produce up to 10 times more energy than an existing conventional gas or oil well, by generating electricity from the heat stored inside the earth: in this case, volcanic areas.


Launched in August last year, the drilling was completed on January 25, reaching a record-breaking depth of 4,659 metres (nearly 3 miles). At this depth, engineers hope to access hot liquids under extreme pressure and at temperatures of 427 degrees C (800 F), creating steam that turns a turbine to generate clean electricity.

Iceland’s decision to harness the heat inside the earth in a process known as geothermal energy dates back to the 1970s and the oil crisis. But the new geothermal well is expected to generate far more energy, as the extreme heat and pressure at that depth makes the water take the form of a “supercritical” fluid, which is neither gas nor liquid.

“We expect to get five to 10 times more power from the well than a conventional well today,” said Albert Albertsson, an engineer at the Icelandic energy company HS Orka, involved in the drilling project. To supply electricity and hot water to a city like Reykjavik with 212,000 inhabitants, “we would need 30-35 conventional high temperature wells” compared to only three or five supercritical wells, says Albertsson. The cost would be much less.

Scientists and the team working on the “Thor” drill project have two years to determine its success and the economic feasibility of the experiment, which is called the Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP).

Iceland’s long-term goal is to reduce the country’s dependence on hydrocarbons by having all cars run on electric power.

Full report: Iceland drills 4.7 km down into volcano to tap clean energy | Phys.org
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Related: Icelink – an interconnector between Great Britain and Iceland

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Comments
  1. Paul says:

    Reblogged this on Paul-o-zone and commented:
    Wow! This is real new, Iceland has started drills into volcanoes to generate Electricity.

  2. lol says:

    But is Iceland a model for clean energy?

    The answer is complex, according to Martin Norman, a Norwegian sustainable finance specialist at Greenpeace.

    Although geothermal energy is still preferable to gas, coal and oil, it’s not “completely renewable and without problems,” he said.

    “As soon as you start drilling you have issues to it, such as sulphur pollution and CO2 emission and they need to find solutions to deal with it,” he added.

  3. Gamecock says:

    ‘Scientists and the team working on the “Thor” drill project have two years to determine its success and the economic feasibility of the experiment’

    And if they don’t make it? Do they get another two years?

  4. tom0mason says:

    From the country that really knows how to thumb it’s nose at the rest of the world when the last economic crash happened, has come this clever idea. Yes the Icelanders have the balls to tell the World Bank, IMF and Great Britain were to go when they were in financial straits (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008%E2%80%9311_Icelandic_financial_crisis), and have the brains to get around buying oil on the open market.
    Clever and self-reliant people.
    IMO the world would be better off using Iceland as the new political model, and stop being the UN’s stooges and snowflakes.

  5. Don’t get too excited. There was a company in Australia (I think called Geodynamics) that drilled down around 3500m into hot granite. I believe the wells blew out from the steam pressure and temperature. They looked at having another go but worked out it was not viable wasting about $50 million of tax payer funds on top of shareholder funds when the money ran out.
    I am not a geologist but would have thought that drilling into a volcano in Iceland would not be wise or successful overtime due to earthquakes and even magma movement & outpouring.
    The Australian drilling was at least into stable strata.

  6. dennisambler says:

    Is this what they call playing with fire?

  7. oldbrew says:

    There is or was also a project in southern Germany with the Icelandic drilling company involved.
    http://www.jardboranir.is/services/our-clients/#europe

    ‘Revolution at 4500 meters depth

    In the Ostallgäu, experts want to test a new method of geothermal energy use. They describe their project as revolutionary and absolutely safe. But many citizens are worried. They speak of fracking and are afraid that an earthquake might even occur.’ – via Google translate [August 2013]

    http://www.sueddeutsche.de/bayern/geothermie-im-ostallgaeu-revolution-in-metern-tiefe-1.1738589

  8. angech says:

    New Zealand has been using thermal energy for years.
    Biggest problem was the immense calcite buildup in the pipes

  9. hunter says:

    The challenges of extremely high formations are many and large. I wish then …well. 😉 what gets me is the assumptions in the article. It also ignores the very long history of Iceland tapping geothermal heat. The use of geoheat goes back to at least the early 1960s.

  10. hunter says:

    That Greenpeace is given any credibility at all in any enviro topic is absurd.

  11. tom0mason says:

    Such things were dreamed of so many years ago —

    UNESCO 1978 http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0007/000748/074804eo.pdf

    Tapping earth’s fiery core – page 24 [mod]

  12. oldbrew says:

    Researchers discover surprisingly hot groundwater along New Zealand’s Alpine Fault
    New Zealand Herald
    Thu, 18 May 2017

    More than 100 scientists from 12 countries drilled nearly 900m at Whataroa to try to understand how earthquakes occur in geological faults.
    . . .
    The team found water hot enough to boil at a depth of 630m. Similar geothermal temperatures are normally found at depths greater than 3km.

    Sutherland said the conditions were extreme by global standards and comparable to those in major volcanic centres like Taupo – but there are no volcanoes in Westland.

    http://www.sott.net/article/351580-Researchers-discover-surprisingly-hot-groundwater-along-New-Zealands-Alpine-Fault

  13. it is amazing but what would be the efficiency and how cost effective would it be?

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