In search of sustainable energy sources, Iceland is hot on drilling deep underneath the earth to tap molten magma.
Before the year ends, Iceland would have finished drilling more than three miles down the earth in an attempt to reach molten magma.
The excavation site is in Reykjanes peninsula, located in Iceland’s southwest portion. If successful, Iceland could boast of having the world’s hottest excavation.
According to experts, the temperature at the site could reach up to 1,000 degrees Celsius. While geothermal wells can generate electricity, those that will come from this site could generate electricity of around 50 MW.
Countries like Iceland have been relying on geothermal energy for many years now. The earth’s deeper layers stores natural heat and harnessing this heat energy can help run turbines, which in turn produces electricity.
Iceland is blessed with an abundance of hot springs so most of its power requirements come from geothermal wells which have been drilled.
The potential of molten magma as a more powerful heat source was accidentally discovered seven years ago when a team from Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) mistakenly drilled into a molten magma. At that time, the team intended to build another geothermal well.
Upon drilling into a layer of molten magma, the team tried to fill the hole with water to test its capacity to produce energy. Soon they found out that this particular drilling could generate electricity of up to 30 MW. A typical geothermal well can produce around 5 MW of electricity.
Drilling experts expect to finish the more than three-mile deep hole at the peninsula in two months time. At this depth, the team can tap the Mid-Atlantic Ridge boundary where seawater soars up to 1,000 degrees Celsius due to the action of molten magma.
Aside from the presence of extremely hot water at this boundary, the team expects to harness supercritical steam triggered by extreme pressure in the area.
This super hot steam can generate 50 MW of electricity which can supply the power requirements of about 50,000 families in Iceland.
However, experts remind that these are just speculations and can only be realized if the drilled well starts to run.
If the new well runs as expected, producing the expected magnitude of energy, deep drilling for molten magma is going to be a promising venture for all of Iceland as well as other countries where volcanoes abound.