The world’s hottest borehole promises to unleash masses of energy from the Earth

If you want to generate power by tapping the heat from beneath our feet, what better way than to drill an outrageously deep hole into a volcano?

That’s what’s currently happening in Iceland. The BBC reports that the Iceland Deep Drilling Project is currently 4.5 kilometers into drilling what will become a five-kilometer borehole by the end of the year. The hope: to hit a deep well of hot rock and water that, at up to 500 °C, produces supercritical steam.

Most geothermal boreholes bottom out around three kilometers deep. But if the team can successfully tap deeper, hotter parts of the planet, it claims it could create up to 10 times as much energy as a standard geothermal installation. Still, it remains unclear how much power this particular borehole might create, as the project is very much an experiment.