In Iceland, there has been a drilling shocker which has possibly opened doors to new magma powered electricity. A couple years back, engineers happened to notice something bizarre while they were drilling boreholes in Krafla, Iceland. That town is located in the northeast part of the country. Their instruments showed that they had struck an underground region that had temperatures near 1000 °C which were producing extremely hot openings of steam.
To their astonishment, the group realized they had broken into a magma filled chamber that was 5 km under the Earth’s surface. Such geothermal systems are actually a reputable technology in which holes are bored into a hot region beneath the Earth, but nothing like this had been ever found before. The team had used a different system and it had apparently worked. It was the first to produce steam in an area of molten, instead of solid rock. This was only the second time anywhere on the planet that any group had been able to drill into the Earth’s magma. The first time was back in 2007 in Hawaii.
After doing this, the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project was able to announce it had successfully created the world’s first magma generated geothermal energy production system. The geothermal energy the team was able to harness took advantage of heat which was locked away deep down in the Earth to produce electricity. This ability to gather energy directly from the Earth’s magma is quite a breakthrough.
This is important because of the advanced drilling technology, being able to hit magma directly is very tough and sporadic. Iceland’s harnessing of magma was basically an accident but they want to capitalize on it if possible. When it happened in Hawaii, the drilling was forced to be stopped and the hole had to be plugged up with concrete due to safety reasons. The Iceland boring event shows much progress because the engineers were able to put in a particularly made steel casing, which allowed the magma to stay contained and also under pressure.
The results were printed up in the journal Geothermics, and reported that the borehole could create superheated steam for numerous months at a time at temperatures which exceeded 450 degrees C. This is a world record for geothermal heat detention. Such information translates to a giant amount of usable energy, equal to a 35 megawatt power plant, or 2,000 percent of what a coal power plant would be able to produce. The energy that came from the borehole could be led straight into a nearby existing power plant built at Krafla.
In the report that the IDDP released, it claimed that the success of such a drilling and research attempt has been astonishing to say the least, and in the near future could lead to a change in the efficiency of energy in any high temperature geothermal regions on the Earth.
Iceland certainly is excited about this discovery. Up to this time, one of the major holdups with any renewable energy source had been efficiency. But unlike solar power and the wind, magma geothermal energy contains the potential to be able to produce energy 24 hours a day seven days a week.
Yet the places where magma can be found are few. Hitting magma is anything but normal, particularly at depths as narrow as the 2 km, where it could be attainably harnessed for energy. Accurately, only the volcanic regions where the Earth’s crust is shrill can stand to profit. There are also numerous apprehensions about the ability to securely drill numerous holes to be able to withdraw the heat.
Even though there are limitations, the IDPP’s current success is immensely exciting to the future of renewable energy. Presently, each one of the technologies such as wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and solar has problems. In order to create a future where the planet is able to have the energy it needs to supply the rapidly changing technological world, humans will have to figure out how to use each of these energies to the best of its ability. Iceland may be the first to be doing this.
By Kimberly Ruble