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Could British homes be powered by Icelandic Geothermal? – 19th May


Harnessing the power of Iceland’s volcanoes to provide energy to the UK and Europe is one of those ideas that resurfaces every few years, but sounds too good to be true. However, interest from several international companies in a geothermal project in Iceland suggests the idea could now be achievable and commercially viable within 20 years.

While geothermal already generates a quarter of Iceland’s electricity, on a global scale the sector has failed to flourish in the same way as solar and wind. Held back by high upfront development costs, it currently produces less than 1% of the world’s electricity.

 In an experiment due to begin in 2020, researchers will drill an initial borehole down to the magma body, into which water can be pumped through reinforced U-shaped pipes. The resulting ‘supercritical steam’ could in theory be used to power turbines and generate electricity to be sent across the North Sea via underwater cables.

This promise of bountiful, clean volcano power appears to be attracting the attention of multiple large corporations, including those from fossil fuel and mining sectors. The researchers are also working with US-based Sandria National Laboratories, to assess how to deal with magma at temperatures of 900°C, says Ludden.

“It is not impossible to imagine that Iceland could send 2GW of energy at a time to the UK, Holland or Denmark via underwater cables, enough to power1.5m homes.”

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