Iceland successfully tests the world's first magma-powered geothermal plant

Introducing ICCP-1, the world’s first magma-enhanced geothermal system. Located in Iceland, it’s an important proof-of-concept that could lead to a revolution in the energy efficiency of high-temperature geothermal areas across the globe. Back in 2009, workers at the Krafla geothermal plant in northeast Iceland unexpectedly struck molten rock at only 6,890 feet depth, and with a temperature of 900-1000 degrees Celsius. It was an extremely rare occurrence, and only the second known instance.

Geothermal power uses the heat locked away inside the Earth to power mechanical devices that create electricity. That basic principle is what underlies the quest for geothermal “resources,” which are really just heat sources. For the most part, geothermal power uses super-heated rocks and fluid flows like hot-springs to ferry heat from the planet’s interior out to us — but all of it, eventually, comes from the center. The vehicle by which that heat arrives at the Earth’s crust are highly pressurized subterranean rivers of molten rock, or magma. It would seem to make sense to generate power from these flows directly, rather than via secondary carriers, but even with all of today’s advanced drilling technology it is still almost impossible to strike magma directly. 

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