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Iceland is drilling the world’s deepest geothermal well

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.


A joint attempt by Statoil and The Iceland Deep Drilling Project(IDDP), world’s hottest geothermal well, is currently being drilled on the Reykjanes peninsula, where a volcano last erupted 700 years ago. The drilling, which began in August last year, has already reached a depth of 2.9 miles(4.6kms) . A similar attempt six years ago ended in disaster, with the drilling team hitting magma at a depth of 1.3 miles(2.1 kms), destroying the drill string. Ásgeir Margeirsson, CEO of project partner HS Orka said:

There is no guarantee that things continue to go smoothly, as at such depths much can still go wrong quickly. All this can take a sudden end, because for some reason you can not drill deeper. We don’t expect to drill into magma, but we are drilling into hot rock. And by hot rock, we mean 400 to 500C.

Over the next several years the IDDP plans to drill and test a series of boreholes that will penetrate supercritical zones believed to be present beneath three currently exploited geothermal fields in Iceland.

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