Iceland Deep Drilling Project

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The Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) is a project and consortium of the National Energy Authority of Iceland (Orkustofnun) and four of Iceland's leading energy companies: Hitaveita Sudurnesja (HS), Landsvirkjun, Orkuveita Reykjavíkur and Mannvit Engineering. The consortium is referred to as 'Deep Vision'.[1][2]

The aim is to improve the economics of geothermal energy production. The strategy is to look at the usefulness of supercritical hydrothermal fluids as an economic energy source. This necessitates drilling to depths of greater than 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) in order to tap the temperatures of more than 400 °C (750 °F). The drilling is at a rifted plate margin on the mid-oceanic ridge.[2] Producing steam from a well in a reservoir hotter than 450 °C (840 °F) — at a proposed rate of around 0.67 cubic metres per second (24 cu ft/s)should be sufficient to generate around 45 MW. If this is correct, then the project could be a major step towards developing high-temperature geothermal resources.[3]

'Deep Vision' recognized at its inception that much research would be needed regarding the poorly understood supercritical environment and as such sought to promote inclusion of the wider scientific community.[1]

Funding has come from the members of the consortium, the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program and the US National Science Foundation.[2]

First Well, IDDP-1[edit]

The 49th Volume of the Journal Geothermics, released in January 2014, is entirely dedicated to the first well of the IDDP.

The bore hole of this well was unintentionally drilled into a magma reservoir in 2009. The hole was initially planned to drill down to hot rock below 4000 m, however drilling was ceased when the drill struck magma at only 2100 deep. This same occurrence has only been recorded once, in a Hawaiian geothermal well in 2007, but in that instance resulted in the sealing and abandonment of the hole.[4]

In IDDP-1, however, the decision was made to continue the experimental well, and upon inserting cold water into the well, which was over 900 °C (1,650 °F). The resultant well was the first operational Magma-EGS, and was at the time the most powerful geothermal well ever drilled, outputting constantly 35 MW of thermal energy for over two years. The well was eventually shut down after a valve failure incurred while attempting to connect the output to a central generator.[5]



Fridleifsson, G.O., and Albertsson, A., 2000. Deep geothermal drilling at Reykjanes Ridge: opportunity for an international collaboration. In Proceedings of the World Geothermal Congress 2000, Japan: Reykjavik, Iceland (International Geothermal Association, Inc.), 3701–3706.

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