Volcanic Energy

Kamchatka is a region of active volcanoes. The ground beneath has abundant geothermal sources – a renewable and environmentally friendly source of energy.

Mutnovskaya Geothermal station, maintained by a workforce of just fifty, provides 30% of energy used by the region and has a capacity of 5 MW. Launched in 2002, the station is the most modern in the world and operates in the most hostile conditions in the world.  The climate is very harsh: snow height can reach 15 meters, wind speeds of 40-50 m/sec are frequent, blizzards can last for several days and temperatures can drop down to -25⁰C.

The station is linked to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky by a 130 km mountainous road and sits at the altitude of 800 meters above the sea level. Workers are brought up here every fortnight. It is a true adventure because of sudden and unpredictable weather changes. Snowstorms can hold people up on the road for several days. Only tracked vehicles can pass through these snowy mountains and provide safety in dangerous situations.

Steam mixture is extracted from 14 wells with depths ranging from 900 to 2,250 metres. Every five days geologists visit all the wells, checking the temperature and steam pressure. Some 4-5 metre well shelters can be completely covered by snow and the geologists can only enter them through the roof. Snowmobiles burrow into deep snow.

Another difficulty is ice forming on the cooling tower system. All station services are involved in de-icing, taking turns in dousing the tower with warm water.

The Mutnovskaya team live like a big family. Lots of people have worked here since it first opened.