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Iceland Mag

Geology

New borehole on Reykjanes peninsula promises to revolutionize geothermal power

By Staff

  • The Reykjanes Deep Drilling project Reykjanes power plant is the third largest geothermal power plant in Iceland. Photo/Vísir

A new geothermal borehole on Reykjanes peninsula could revolutionize geothermal power generation, scientists believe. The borehole is deeper than any previous geothermal boreholes, reaching a depth of 4,650 m (2.9 miles). Superheated steam at this depth reaches temperatures far in excess of 400°C (750°F).

Read more: A record 4.5 km/2.8 mile deep geothermal borehole drilled on Reykjanes peninsula

The borehole was dug as part of the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project, a collaborative project between the Icelandic power company HS Energy, other Icelandic energy and drilling companies and the Norwegian oil company Statoil. The goal is to explore the potential of extracting energy from deep geothermal systems. The project involved drilling deeper into an older 3,000 m (1.86 mile) deep borehole to a greater depth and pressures than any previous drilling projects. 

The CEO of HS Orka, Ásgeir Margeirsson, told the Icelandic National Broadcasting service that the project had been far more successful than scientists had hoped. Scientists have not yet been able to determine the heat at the bottom of the borehole, as the shaft needs to be kept cool while drilling is still underway. The highest temperature recorded in the borehole is 427°C (800°F).

Read more: Reykjanes Geopark: A volcanic wonderland less than an hour’s drive from Reykjavík

Superheated steam at this temperature could be used to generate far more energy than previous boreholes. IDDP estimates that the borehole could generate 40 MW, nearly five times as much energy as a regular borehole. Ásgeir said the findings were of enormous significance for the entire geothermal power sector:

"We believe that this opens a whole new dimension in the geothermal power generation, not just at Reykjanes peninsula, and Iceland, but world-wide. Drilling deeper, to harness far more energy intensive steam we can transform the geothermal power industry."

The next stage of the project is to evaluate the energy potential of the borehole: How much superheated steam it will actually deliver to the surface, as well as finding the right equipment to harness this steam and turn it into electricity. 

 

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