Geologists and engineers have successfully drilled into a volcano in Iceland as part of a project to assess the economic feasibility of deep geothermal resources for renewable energy.
The deployment of deep enhanced geothermal systems for sustainable energy business (DEEPEGS), funded under the Horizon 2020 programme, considers unconventional geothermal resources as those that are extremely hot, up to 550°C, and very deep – more than three kilometres.
Earlier this year the Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) at the Reykjanes Peninsula completed drilling at a depth of 4.659 kilometres where temperatures of 427°C were recorded.
The drilling, which began in August 2016, created the deepest volcanic borehole ever. Geologists and engineers aim to find if the so-called ‘supercritical fluid’ – a condition in which water is so deep in the ground that it is neither liquid nor gas – can be used for efficient energy production.
According to the project’s partners, this drilling project could result in the opening up of new areas for geothermal energy utilisation and the enhancement of the performance of current production zones in Iceland.
However, more research, testing and flow simulation will be needed, and the final results on the technology and economics of production from the well will not be known until the end of 2018 at the earliest.
Project partner Statoil said: ‘The purpose of the IDDP-2 project is research, and the drilling completion is only one phase of the project. The next steps will be to do further testing and research on the well – and most importantly, flow tests and fluid handling experiments will be conducted within the next two years.’
The next stage of the project will involve pumping cold water into the well, which will open it up in order to tap into the steam at the bottom to provide a source of geothermal energy.