National Energy Authority of Iceland introduces a new geothermal research project Geothermica

Geotermisk område på Island

Led by Iceland‘s National Energy Authority, the Geothermal research project called Geothermica is worth 30 mill EUR aims to support and accelerate development of geothermal utilization within the participating European countries.

The National Energy Authority of Iceland (NEA) have newly introduced a geothermal research project, which was discussed on a local news media in Iceland. NEA will serve as head of the project in a big cooperative geothermal research project with sixteen administrative and research centers in thirteen European countries. The project called Geothermia will aim to support and accelerate development of geothermal utilization within the participating countries. To achieve the goals the participants have contributed over EUR 30 million ($33 million) into a fund that will be used to support the innovation and development of geothermal energy.

10 EU countries participating in the partnership; Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Romania and Slovenia, as well as Iceland, Switzerland and Turkey related to the project through an agreement with the EU, including the EEA Agreement. They are to share research funds from the participating countries on the one hand and the EU on the other hand for research and innovation in the field of geothermal energy, and to promote business networks and the geothermal sector in Europe. Then the plan is to establish strategic alliances among those who provide funding for geothermal research and innovation.

Hjalti Páll Ingólfsson, Manager of the GEORG research cluster in Iceland and Program manager for Geothermic, values this project to be also useful in Iceland. It provides opportunities for projects in new locations, beyond where Icelandic companies and individuals have worked in recent years.

“This also opens the opportunity to utilize our knowledge of district heating and the possibility of using geothermal energy as a source of heat, not only for power generation. This is becoming a major revival in Europe of the use of renewable energy, which has not been so far despite intense moment, “he says.

When asked who could take advantage of this fund, he says it may be experts in energy that might be on various projects, regardless of what they are denominated. “Those who can definitely come in here are independent experts and consultants, engineering firms, energy companies and this can certainly be an opportunity for the row of projects,” he says.

Behind projects like this lies the policy of European countries to substantially increase the share of renewable energy both for the public and for use in industry. Today, geothermal energy is used as an energy source only in a few industries and a few designated areas. At the same time it is estimated that about a quarter of European countries can take advantage of geothermal energy. The European Union wants to fuel 80% of all heating from renewable energy by 2050, including from geothermal energy which is still much undeveloped in most parts of the world. The participants in the research project therefore believe that the opportunities of further utilisation of geothermal energy is essentially limitless.

Asked if this project connects to the ongoing debate on climate change, he says that the project confirms the EU’s interest in geothermal energy is directly and indirectly connected to the debate. The interest in renewable energy is therefore incredibly important.


Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP)


The Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) is a long term study of high-temperature hydrothermal systems in Iceland. The IDDP is a collaborative effort by a consortium of three Icelandic power companies  (Hitaveita Sudurnesja (HS) (since 2008: HS Orka hf), Landsvirkjun (LV) and Orkuveita Reykjavíkur (OR)), and Orkustofnun (OS), the National Energy Authority of Iceland. and the Icelandic government, formed to determine if utilizing supercritical geothermal fluids would improve the economics of power productions from geothermal fields.

The IDDP expects to drill and test a series of boreholes that will penetrate supercritical zones believed to be present beneath three currently exploited geothermal fields in Iceland. One has been excecuted and the second will be activated in mid september 2016. A drilling to a depth of about 5 km will be required in order to reach hydrothermal fluids at temperatures ranging from 450°C to ~600°C.

A feasibility study completed in 2003 points at that in comparison to the output from conventional geothermal wells, which are 2.5 km deep, a ten-fold increase in power output per well could result if fluid is produced from reservoirs hotter than 450°C .

A typical 2.5 km-deep geothermal well in Iceland yields power to approximately 5 MWe. Assuming a similar volumetric inflow rate of steam, an IDDP well tapping a supercritical reservoir at temperatures above 450°C and at a pressure of 23-26 MPa may be expected to yield ~50 MWe.

The first IDDP drilling was performed in year 2009 in Krafla. The second drilling is scheduled mid september 2016 at the Reykjanes geothermal field. The aim is to drill 3 km deep. The drill Thor is powered by green energy produced by Reykjanes power plant.

The main benefits from deep geothermal drilling are as here below:

  • Increased power output per well, assumed by an order of magnitude, and production of higher-value, high-pressure, high-temperature steam.
  • Development of an environmentally benign, high-enthalpy energy source below currently producing geothermal fields.
  • Extended lifetime of the exploited geothermal reservoirs and power generation facilities.
  • Re-evaluation of the geothermal resource base.
  • Industrial, educational, and economic spin-off.
  • Knowledge of permeabilities within drillfields below 2 km depth.
  • Knowledge of heat transfer from magma to water.
  • Heat sweeping by injection of water into hot, deep wells.
  • Advances in research on ocean floor hydrothermal systems.

Summarized from the website and