Last October, Iceland's economy tanked. Its bailout? A two-mile geothermal well drilled into a volcano that could generate an endless supply of clean energy. Or, as Icelanders will calmly explain, it could all blow up in their faces
The Kuwait of the North: Engineers at the Tyr drilling rig in Krafla’s snow-covered caldera hope to use a supercritical-water source two miles underground to produce 10 times as much geothermal electricity as a normal well Courtesy Sveinbjorn Holmgeirsson/Landsvirkjun Power
It's spring in Iceland, and three feet of snow covers the ground. The sky is gray and the temperature hovers just below freezing, yet Gudmundur Omar Fridleifsson is wearing only a windbreaker. Icelanders say they can spot the tourists because they wear too many clothes, but Fridleifsson seems particularly impervious. He's out here every few days to check on the Tyr geothermal drilling rig, the largest in Iceland. The rig's engines are barely audible over the cold wind, and the sole sign of activity is the slow dance of a crane as it grabs another 30-foot segment of steel pipe, attaches it to the top of the drill shaft, and slides it into the well.