Alcoa joins geothermal project

Three energy companies in Iceland have joined forces to investigate the possibility of increasing the amount of energy harnessed from geothermal sources in the country. Aluminium manufacturer Alcoa Inc. is also taking part with a “significant contribution” to the project.

The Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) is researching the economic viability of producing energy from underground water heated by volcanic sources. If the project proves to be a success, then it could lead to the production of up to ten times more electricity than is currently produced from geothermal sources in Iceland today, with little or no impact on the environment.

Details of the exact financial arrangements have not been released but Alcoa representatives say they have signed an agreement promising to support the consortium of power companies in their research endeavours.

In the first phase of the project, each power company will be responsible for drilling one well in their area. The wells are likely to be between 3.5 kilometers to four kilometers deep and tap water deep below the Earth’s surface.

A statement from the executive vice president of Alcoa, Bernt Reitan, said, “Geothermal energy is exactly what the world needs to tap into almost limitless, clean, natural energy and to substantially reduce greenhouse emissions.”

He also said that research from the project in Iceland may be useful in other areas with high-temperature geothermic potential.

Based in New York, Alcoa is the second-largest aluminum company in the world. The company plans to develop a smelter in Iceland, which, if the study proves successful, could become one of the first smelters to be powered by geothermal energy in the world.