Europe: EGS in Iceland; UK Resource Law

In Europe, geothermal news headlines this week featured updates from Iceland and the United Kingdom.

Iceland Deep Drilling Project details its successful magma-enhanced geothermal experiments. Photo: IDDP supercritical flow test, IDDP promotional/Kristján Einarsson
Iceland Deep Drilling Project details its successful magma-enhanced geothermal experiments. Photo: IDDP supercritical flow test, IDDP promotional/Kristján Einarsson


*Iceland: IDDP Magma Study Breaks Records
*United Kingdom: Amendment Would Clarify Geothermal Resource Compensation

The Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) has created the world’s first magma-enhanced geothermal system. The pioneering supercritical geothermal project unexpectedly drilled into the magma in 2009, and IDDP was able to fund continuing studies of the rare opportunity. The superheated, high-pressure steam exceeded 842°F (450°C), a record for geothermal heat. The well is now closed due to a valve failure, but the experiments were successful and bode well for the future of geothermal energy. A second well, IDDP-2, is planned at the site. The journal Geothermics devoted its January 2014 issue to IDDP; click here for the articles.

IDDP described the project on its Web site:

Firstly, we were able to drill down into the molten magma and control it, despite some difficulties.

Secondly, pumping cold water into the hole to break up the rock next to the magma created high permeability (hydrofracking) which reached connection to the colder geothermal environments above.

Thirdly, we were able to set steel casing down to the bottom of the hole.

Fourthly, allowing the hole to blow superheated, high-pressure steam for months at temperatures of over 450°C, beat the world record for geothermal heat as this well was the hottest in the world and one of the most powerful. According to the measured output the available power was sufficient to generate up to 36 megawatts electricity, compared to the installed electrical capacity of 60 megawatts in the Krafla power plant.

Fifthly, we successfully demonstrated the capability of coping with the difficult chemical composition of steam from IDDP-1 by using simple counter measures.

Sixthly, we demonstrated that the steam could be taken directly into the existing power plant at Krafla, and the National Power Company was preparing such an action just before the hole had to be closed due to valve failure.

The seventh and last place but not least, by successfully drilling the hole and carrying out experiments, the IDDP-1 demonstrated that a high-enthalpy geothermal system can be created in this way, meaning that a Magma-EGS system was created by IDDP-1.

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, the government is considering amendments to trespass laws that would more fully define how to go about developing potential shale gas reserves and deep geothermal energy resources.

Currently, UK landowners do not have rights to the oil and gas under their land, but drilling lateral wells under someone else’s property could lead to a trespass action and did in a 2008-2010 oil well case. Suggestions to remedy the situation include a fee per well and a revenue-sharing mechanism.

Also in the UK, GT energy has plans to develop a geothermal heat generating facility in Ardwick thanks to the promising geology of the Cheshire Basin and the energy demand in the area.

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