Geologists in Iceland have drilled deeper into the heart of a volcano than ever before in an audacious bid to harness geothermal energy.
The volcanic borehole in the south-west of the country is now nearly three miles deep (4,559m) and boasts temperatures of up to 427C.
But engineers are hopeful that after the shaft is widened with cold water in coming weeks, the base will reach 500C, making it the world’s hottest borehole.
At the bottom of the well, molten rock and extreme pressure transform water into a “supercritical” state more energetic than liquid or gas. It’s then captured and brought to the surface.
Developers of the Iceland deep drilling project hope the well will generate 10 times more energy than existing geothermal wells.
Originally, the engineers had intended to drill down to 5,000m, but boring became increasingly difficult and they had reached high enough pressures.
“We knew we had reached our goal, so we decided it was the right time to stop drilling. Mission accomplished,” Gudmundur Omar Fridleifsson, from HS Orka, an energy company part-funding the plant, told the BBC.
While drilling has been completed, it will be another three years before the mission on the Reykjanes peninsula is concluded.
With a population of more than 300,000 people, Iceland generates almost all of its energy from indigenous renewable sources.
In 2014, 25 per cent the country’s total electricity production came from geothermal power facilities.
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