Is it possible that the newest form of renewable energy could come from volcanoes? If Iceland becomes more than just an example, but a leader in the energy industry, this new form of geothermal energy will no longer just be conversation. Currently, Iceland’s volcanic geography is contributing geothermal resources that account for nearly a quarter of the country’s electricity. While the world is currently dominated by hydrocarbon economies, taking a lesson from Iceland and tapping into volcanic geothermal sources could open access to a powerful renewable resource for the world.
While the current process Iceland has in place is a bit outdated, researchers have great hopes of new techniques that could foster greater levels of geothermal energy. With a new process of drilling down closer to the magma deposits, expectations are to extract the supercritical fluids, and potentially the superhot magma, to use as an energy source. If engineers and researchers get this right, it could boost the output of the average geothermal system by ten times, revolutionizing the energy industry.
These volcanic geothermal resources are located all around the world. New geothermal plants are being built almost every month, as the new renewable resource is booming, growing at a rate of four or five percent each year. While there are many advantages to this geothermal energy source, the major disadvantage, is its high initial costs, with an estimated average cost of $30 million.
Currently there is not a large market for supplying geothermal energy around the world, but there could be in the near future. If Iceland is able to harness the abundance of geothermal energy within its borders, through the use of new technologies, it could potentially fuel much of Northern Europe. There is a great opportunity for this market to expand throughout the world with geothermal opportunities present in East Africa, Italy, and countries located on the Pacific Rim.
If researchers and engineers can perfect the process of harnessing geothermal energy, the world could be looking at the next great energy market within the industry. Let us know what you think about volcanic geothermal energy by leaving a comment below!