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Iceland To Drill Hole Into Volcano 275

G3ckoG33k writes "BBC reports that Iceland will drill a hole into a volcano so it can tap heat from it, which eventually is hoped to produce commercially available energy. From the article: "Twenty years ago, geologist Gudmundur Omar Friedleifsson had a surprise when he lowered a thermometer down a borehole. 'We melted the thermometer,' he recalls. 'It was set for 380C; but it just melted.'". Excuse me, Gudmundur, but how could that ever have been a 'surprise'..."
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Iceland To Drill Hole Into Volcano

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:13AM (#15002027)
    I took a field trip once to the local hydroelectric dam and learned all about how hydro is safe and clean and provides a large recreational grounds after the water has accumulated behind the dam. It was pretty cool.

    Now if they can build a geothermal plant that actually improves the landscape, I think they are on to something. Free energy ceases to be free when you ruin the surrounding area with ugly power plants.
  • by fatduck ( 961824 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:13AM (#15002029)
    In other news, Icelandic scientists have set up a network of precisely timed explosive devices in a tunnel into the heart of the volcano in order to harvest billions of dollars worth of "blue diamonds" extremely useful for use in electronics.
  • by gregor-e ( 136142 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:36AM (#15002155) Homepage
    Trouble with extracting geothermal energy is that rock is a pretty good insulator. Once you get the first enthusiastic bout of steam and have cooled a few feet of rock around your pipe, the heat leaches back in very slowly. Unless they can create and sustain a lava tube that is constantly eroding in the presence of circulating magma, (or use a heat exchanger in constantly circulating hot water), this is unlikely to be successful.
  • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @09:46AM (#15002208) Homepage
    I would second that.

    Just look at Russia, it has the largest hydro deployment in the world now and the results are not pretty. River deltas are drying, there are massive changes to the environment, climate which was as healthy as a climate can get 100 years ago has become practically lethal in many places. A big hydroelectric tends to keep the river right after it open all winter. As a result the humidity goes into the 100% condensing range which when the outside temperature is around -40 is outright deadly. It is not pretty when the outside temperature is above 25 either.

    There are very few places in the world where a hydroelectric is environmentally safe and economically sound.
  • Yellowstone park (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @10:21AM (#15002417) Journal
    Hopefully, if this works, we will start more taps in wyoming/montana around Yellowstone park. I realize that some will worry that we would tap too much heat out, but if we work from the outside, it is doubtful that we could change Old Faithful. It is time that we take advantage of none destuctive alternatives such as this (as well as nukes).
  • Re:Yellowstone park (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Eccles ( 932 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @10:41AM (#15002591) Journal
    Given that Yellowstone is a potential supervolcano, one wonders if tapping the energy there would reduce or increase the chances of it becoming one. It might work as a safety valve, or might trigger changes that accelerate the process -- or might just be like a match in an already raging forest fire.
  • by Phoenix666 ( 184391 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @11:20AM (#15002923)
    cool to think that you can tap volcanos for energy. question is, if you're drawing off that energy, might you not also be reducing the likelihood of a catastrophic eruption? i am a simple caveman lawyer who does not understand your modern ways, but that would be pretty neat.
  • Re:Warn Iceland! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rpjs ( 126615 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @12:40PM (#15003618)
    The volcano gods are gonna be so angered when they find out Iceland is mooching the heat

    Having visited Iceland, I'd be willing to bet that the Icelanders have already talked it over with the volcano gods and cut them in for a share of the profits. This is, after all, a country that builds roads around boulders because the elves live in them.
  • by C0vardeAn0nim0 ( 232451 ) on Monday March 27, 2006 @01:19PM (#15003883) Journal
    tell this to the thousands of brasilian farmers who were displaced by huge hydroelectric projects during the military government between '64-'85 who hadn't been setled in new plots to this day, tell this to other thousands who leave nerby the lakes who have to deal with clouds of mosquitos that reproduce in the shores and can cover the sun when then fly seeking for blood to feed their eggs, tell this to people who live downstream the dams and see the rivers that suply them reduced to little more than creeks in times of drought...

    i've seen all of these here in brasil, where 90% of the electricity comes from hydroelectrics.

    hydropower also has it's environmental price tag, don't let the marketing departament of a utility fool you.

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.