The plant purifies hot steam sent up from the magma and uses it to operate turbines which in turn feed into electric generators.
The plant is the first on the planet to use steam produced by molten rock, also known as magma. Geothermal plants typically rely on steam produced by ‘hot rocks’.
The initiative was a joint undertaking between the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) and the country’s National Power Company.
Second time a magma chamber has been drilled into
When engineers first discovered the site several years ago, they were stunned to have drilled into one of the planet’s magma chambers. The only other time which humans managed a similar feet was seven years ago in Hawaii.
However, whereas in Hawaii the engineers decided to block the whole using concrete, in Iceland they saw a potential source of energy. A valve was installed and the extremely hot steam was funnelled into the plant at temperatures as high as 450C.
Iceland: a hub of geothermal activity
A vast amount (65%) of Iceland’s energy is produced by geothermal energy and the same source is used to heat nine in ten of the nation’s homes.
The country is home to 30 active volcanoes, 13 of which have erupted since inhabitants first arrived in the year 874. In 2010, the volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted and created a cloud of volcanic ash above northern Europe. As a result many flights were cancelled.