3-Mile-Deep Well in Iceland Will Harness Energy From Magma

Iceland Deep Drilling Project
Iceland Deep Drilling Project / Iceland Deep Drilling Project

In an effort to harness alternative energy, one Icelandic company is looking deep beneath the Earth’s surface. The Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) is currently drilling a 3-mile-deep hole into Reykjanes, Iceland that will tap into the power of super-hot magma, New Scientist reports.

While deeper holes have been drilled into solid rock in the past, the IDDP rig will be the deepest well of its kind to penetrate a fluid system. The area they’re targeting is a landward portion of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge fault line. At those depths, ocean water that’s seeped beneath the seabed meets flowing magma, creating a “supercritical steam” that holds more energy than liquid or gas.

The project began on August 12 and is slated to wrap up by the end of 2016. Once completed, the hole is expected to be the hottest on Earth, reaching temperatures as high as about 1800°F.

Iceland is already ahead of the curve when it comes to geothermal energy: Its prime real estate along the Mid-Atlantic ridge allows for the operation of six geothermal power plants. This latest project could deliver the underground power to the country on a much larger scale. Albert Albertsson of HS Orka, an Icelandic geothermal energy company working on IDDP, told New Scientist that their hole will be capable of producing 50 megawatts. That’s enough to power 50,000 households compared to the 5000 that run on a conventional geothermal well.

[h/t New Scientist]

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