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In this aerial view, fountains of lava, up to 60 meters high, spurt from a fissure in the ground on the north side of the Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. The alert warning for the area surrounding Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano remained at orange on Tuesday, indicating that it is showing increased unrest with greater potential for an explosive eruption. (AP Photo/Stefano Di Nicolo)

Iceland may soon harness the power of magma



Iceland may soon tap into the power of magma.

The Iceland Drilling Project, with the help of a drilling rig named Thor, will soon reach the area around a magma chamber below the Reykjanes peninsula, where the magma meets seawater that has penetrated the seafloor, according to an article from Pete Rowley of The Conversation.  

The water, which could reach temperatures of 1,832 degrees Farenheight, would be brought to the surface and turned into energy. 

“People have drilled into hard rock at this depth, but never before into a fluid system like this,” Albert Albertsson, the assistant director of the geothermal energy company involved in the project told New Scientist

So why now? Well, water at such an extreme temperature exists in a state Rowley described as "supercritical," meaning it doesn't really act like a liquid or a gas. 

This "supercritical" water can generate 10 times the amount of power compared to your average geothermal resources. 

Iceland is built on about 130 volcanoes, so if this works, it could be great news for a country that already generates about a quarter of their electricity using geothermal energy. 

According to Rowley, Iceland has "one of the highest geothermal electricity productions in terms of total energy share." 

So where does the United States stand in terms of harnessing the power of geothermal energy? 

Well, the U.S. is the biggest geothermal electricity producer in the world, with much of energy being produced in California. 

The Philippines and Indonesia are just behind the U.S., with a capacity of 1,870 and 1,340 MW respectively, according to Rowley.  For comparison, the U.S. had a capacity of about 3,450 MW in 2015. 

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