BUILDING GREEN: EARTH POWER
Before running out of oil, we better have a look under our feet, where lies a clean and inexhaustible source of energy: the heat of the Earth!
The volcanic and wet country of Iceland has plenty of steam to turn into electricity, it’s the Saudi Arabia of geothermy. Plants are popping up and growing fast. Markus, a foreman in charge of building cooling towers, essential pieces on the giant plant of Hellisheidi, deals all year long with a tight schedule, non English or nor Icelandic speaking workers, storms and… a lethal poisonous gas. Gretar, the geologist, has to map the underground and inform drillers how to provide daily more power to the plant. All of them together are tapping tens of steam wells one mile down and deeper, laying miles of pipes and installing always more generators.
Iceland plans to become before 2050 the first nation to free itself from fossil fuels.
In France, pioneers are working on a new technology. Far away from active volcanoes and steam reservoirs, they drill much deeper, up to 3 miles and inject water into hot rocks to make their own steam. Their latest breakthroughs will allow geothermal plants to produce power at half the temperature of the steam in Iceland. But as this method has never been tested before, solutions need to be found every time a problem arises, which is… quite often. Polo, with a 10 year experience on the project, Xavier, who’s his first job it is after graduating in mechanical engineering, and all their international European crew face adversity and never give up. So far, it’s only a small-scale pilot plant, but with big dreams: showing the world that this clean and renewable energy could be used by many of us.
A film by Christophe ROUVIERE