Geothermal energy plants use the earth’s own heat as a power source. Now Iceland is taking the technology several steps further by harvesting energy from liquid magma as reported by Inhabitat.
The country is drilling deep into the planet to tap temperatures from 400 to 1000 degrees Celsius, which could produce ten times more electricity as compared to typical geothermal sources.
The country is already avoiding the use of fossil fuels and they are not stopping their pursuit of innovation. The Iceland Deep Drilling project is drilling 5km down into the Earth’s crust using its rig they call “Thor”. The site is located on the Reykjanes peninsula near an extension of the Mid-Atlantic ridge, where heat escapes between the Earth’s tectonic plates.
According to Albert Albertson, assistant director of HS Orka, the Icelandic geothermal energy company that handles the project, people have drilled into hard rock at this depth, but never before into fluid systems like they are harnessing. By reaching down into the depths of the heated seawater at the said location, the researchers behind IDDP are hoping to find supercritical steam, which holds more heat energy that either gas or liquid.
A potential 50 megawatts of energy could be harvested from this steam, making a typical geothermal well’s 5 megawatts seem pretty small. This means that up to 50,000 homes could be powered by the geothermal plant.
The worldwide impact is promising as supercritical geothermal energy could be produced wherever young volcanoes are found. The IDDPs present project was launched after the company accidentally hit magma back in 2009, but shut down after corrosion issues. The well generated 20 megawatts, as compared to the new well’s 50 megawatts capacity.