Iceland is to drill the world's deepest bore hole for a geothermal energy project directly into a volcano in the Reykjanes peninsula. The hole will be drilled to a depth of over three miles, and scientists believe that they will be able to use the extreme heat and pressure from the Earth's core to create a vast geothermal well with 30-50 MW of clean and renewable energy.
Certainly, if any nation is well positioned to lead the way in this technology, it is Iceland. The country is already one of the biggest producers of geothermal power - and one of the biggest users of it too, being blessed with a heavily volcanic geology that puts accessible heat at their fingertips.
Already the country meets a quarter of its energy needs from geothermal power, but this latest effort is truly huge compared to existing facilities. A standard geothermal well will drill down to around 1.5 metres under the Earth's surface, whereas this mega-well will be twice as deep and potentially able to yield a whopping ten times the power as a result.
When the engineers get down to the three-mile depth point, scientists expect they will find a combination of water and molten rock with tremendous pressure and heat which will create so-called supercritical steam. This is neither gas or liquid but contains far more energy than either matter states - and it is believed to hold the key to even greater amounts of electricity.
The CEO of the Deep Drilling Project, Asgeir Margeirsson, said that the project team - a collaboration between industry, scientists and the government - hoped that the innovative project would develop fresh approaches for the world's geothermal industry and facilitate greater levels of clean energy production.