Lava geothermal energy
When the volcano eruption in Heimaey ended in 1973, Sveinbjörn Jónsson from
Reykjavík proposed using the geothermal energy to heat up homes. In the
beginning of 1974, Sveinbjörn conducted a simple heat exchange experiment in
Eldfellshraun by running cold water through it. The result was that the cold
water became instantly hot, then it was led through the heating system of a
nearby house. Later that winter there was an experimental heating plant
constructed in Gufugili. This plant heated up 25 houses along with a hospital,
the heating system of the hot water supply was a closed circulation system.
After these successful experiments, major constructions were set up in 1977 in
Vestmannaeyjar that would enable large portions of the town to be heated with
thermal energy from the lava. This geothermal energy plant was taken into use in
the year of 1978. A pumping station was constructed on the corner of Kirkjuvegur
and Heiðarvegur; from the pumping station the heated water was pumped into the
two distribution systems in the town. The backup power system was also stationed
Running the thermal energy plant was difficult, new areas had to be constantly
utilized resulting in high expenditures, and the lava itself cooled down. In
1988 thermal energy from the lava was ceased and an electrode boiler was taken
into use, where steam was produced.
Nonetheless, this was an unique event on a global scale, since geothermal energy
from lava from a volcano eruption had never been used before in heating houses.