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Why would you want to dig into a volcano?

Andy Day

6th January 2017

If you've got a surplus of energy, why not export it? If you've got a shortage, why not import it? The solution to that equation is driving plans for a high-voltage undersea electricity interconnector between Iceland and the UK. And it's leading Iceland to source its geothermal capacity directly from volcanoes.

Iceland already uses its tectonic plate margin situation to generate most of its electricity needs from renewable sources - particularly geothermal energy. Where the crust is particularly thin, underground steam arises at the surface and drives turbines that generate electricity. Now, Iceland is going after an even more superheated source, by drilling directly into a volcano to obtain even higher temperature outputs. This may contribute to the planned electricity interconnector that could export surplus energy to the UK in the next decade, as this planning outline by Icelandic company Atlantic Superconnection shows. The UK already imports electricity from Ireland, France and the Netherlands. But importing it direct from an Icelandic volcano - well that would be explosive.


Watch the BBC News clip of what drilling into a volcano entails

Andy Day

Andy recently finished being a classroom geographer after 35 years at two schools in East Yorkshire as head of geography, head of the humanities faculty and director of the humanities specialism. He has written extensively about teaching and geography - with articles in the TES, Geography GCSE Wideworld and Teaching Geography.

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