An attempt to drill into the heart of a volcano in the south-west of Iceland is now complete. The extreme pressure and heat at such depths could derive 30 to 50 MW of electricity from one geothermal well.
Geologists have penetrated 4,659m down, creating the deepest-ever volcanic borehole. Their aim is to tap into the steam at the bottom of the well to provide a source of geothermal energy. They recorded temperatures of 427C, but believe the hole will get hotter when they widen it in the coming months. The Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) team also collected 21m of cores, which will now be analysed.
Iceland is a world leader in the the use of geothermal energy and produces approximately 26 percent of its electricity from geothermal sources. The installed generation capacity of geothermal power plants totaled 665 MW in 2013 and the production was 5.245 GWh. A typical 2.5 km-deep geothermal well in Iceland yields power equivalent to approximately 5 MW. Scientists expect a ten-fold increase in power output per well by digging further deep into earth's crust. At a depth of 5 km , the extreme pressure and heat of over 500 degrees Celsius will create ‘supercritical steam’ substantially increasing the turbine efficiency.