While drilling a geothermal borehole in 2009, the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project accidentally struck magma. Instead of plugging the hole, the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project decided to try and utilize the heat.
The IDDP and Iceland’s National Power Company, which operates the Krafla geothermal power plant nearby, decided to make a substantial investment to investigate the hole further. This meant cementing a steel casing into the well, leaving a perforated section at the bottom closest to the magma. Heat was allowed to slowly build in the borehole, and eventually superheated steam flowed up through the well for the next two years.
The result? The team measured a capability of 36MW of electrical power. This is a lot less than the energy created by a 660MW coal-fired power station, but a lot more than an average wind turbine (1-3MW). It’s also more than half the current output of the Krafla power plant – from a single well.
They’re also looking at the possibility of deeper boreholes that can reach supercritical water, something I had never heard of: water that reaches a supercritical state, that is neither gas nor liquid, and can increase power output tenfold.
Read more at The Conversation: Drilling surprise opens door to volcano-powered electricity.