Tapping into geothermal energy is nothing new, but Iceland is taking things majorly next level by drilling nearly 3 miles into a live volcano to tap liquid hot magma. The well is likely the hottest hole on the planet, reaching oozing magma that averages 800 °F. The hole was completed in January and energy production kicks off today. If successful, the clean energy source will be able to generate ten times more energy than conventional oil or gas wells.
The project is nicknamed Thor after the Norse god. The geothermal well will tap into what is called “supercritical” fluid – neither gas nor liquid – to generate clean, renewable energy. It works by using the fluid to generate steam, which then causes turbines to move generating power.
Related: Google Street View takes you inside the fiery depths of an active volcano
As you’d imagine, volcano power is pretty potent stuff. To supply Iceland’s capitol Reykjavik (with a population of 212,000 people) with power, you’d need 30-35 conventional wells. But if Thor performs as expected, it would only take 3 – 5 wells.
Images via Statoil and Peterhartree