World Bulletin / News Desk
Iceland could be the first country to generate electricity from magma - if plans to go ahead next year succeed - three percent of its energy needs will be generated this way, says Gudmundur Omar Fridleifsson, chief geologist of Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP).
Iceland created the first magma-based geothermal energy system after accidently drilling approximately two kilometers into a chamber of molten lava in a caldera called Krafla in the north of the island five years ago.
With this incident, scientists from IDDP decided to use the magma to generate 36 megawatts of electricity in 2012.
However, the team's plans were put on hold when a valve failed during the process and the well had to be closed down.
"The power company then considered either reconditioning the well or drilling a new well to the magma chamber for steam production" said Fridleifsson.
"The IDDP program is now ready to drill the next well, IDDP-2, but this time not in Krafla, in the Reykjanes geothermal field in south west Iceland, which has seawater salinity and in many respects resembles black smoker systems on the ocean floor," he said.
Some modification and improvements are included in the design of the well and the flow line structure. An official decision on drilling well IDDP-2 remains to be taken but scientists are aiming to drill in 2015, according to Fridleifsson.
This improvement is very important for the world and it’s all about the world’s energy, said Mustafa Kumral, associate professor of geological engineering at Istanbul Technical University.
"New Zealand and Iceland are experienced countries with geothermal works because of their geological locations and geothermal sources. In these countries, geothermal power and thermal actions are very common due to volcanism. Besides, they have more opportunities compared to other countries" he said.
In the world and Turkey, generating energy from magma started to take attention, for now only by thoughts and not with the actions, he added.
Turkey has around 14 inactive volcanoes - the most recent eruption being 150 years ago at Mount Tendürek, a volcano in the southeast of Turkey.
IDDP pumps down water during drilling which hydrofractures the hot rock next to the magma body – then reverses the process and attracts the fluid into the well. It creates a Geothermal System forming an EGS-Magma system. IDDP claims that by this drilling, they “unintentionally” created the world’s first Magma-EGS system.
This new method of generating electricity could be important for Iceland, where geothermal energy and hydroelectricity make up almost 95 percent of the energy production and 85 percent of homes are heated by geothermal, according to figures from International Energy Agency.
Drilling into magma has only occurred once before; in Hawaii in 2007, however generating electricity was not successful.
If drilling into magma succeeds in Iceland it will be a revolution for the energy world, experts say.
The IDDP is partnership of three energy companies, National Power Company, HS Energy Ltd. and Reykjavik Energy. The government agency, National Energy Authority of Iceland is also a partner of this collaboration.
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