Google.org Invests $10 million in Geothermal Energy
Posted on August 19, 2008 Comments (4)
Google is investing huge sums in renewable energy with the aim of cheaper than coal renewable energy. Google.org (the philanthropic arm of Google) announced $10.25 million in investments in a breakthrough energy technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS).
EGS expands the potential of geothermal energy by orders of magnitude. The traditional geothermal approach relies on finding naturally occurring pockets of steam and hot water. The EGS process, by comparison, replicates these conditions by fracturing hot rock, circulating water through the system, and using the resulting steam to produce electricity in a conventional turbine.
A recent MIT report on EGS estimates that just 2% of the heat below the continental United States between 3 and 10 kilometers, depths within the range of current drilling technology, is more than 2,500 times the country’s total annual energy use.
“EGS could be the ‘killer app’ of the energy world. It has the potential to deliver vast quantities of power 24/7 and be captured nearly anywhere on the planet. And it would be a perfect complement to intermittent sources like solar and wind,” said Dan Reicher, Director of Climate and Energy Initiatives for Google.org.
Google’s Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal initiative focuses on solar thermal power, advanced wind, EGS and other potential breakthrough technologies. Google has set a goal to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity, enough to power a city the size of San Francisco, in years, not decades.
Google.org announced funding for two companies and a university:
* AltaRock Energy: $6.25 million investment to develop innovative technologies to achieve significant cost reductions and improved performance in EGS projects.
* Potter Drilling: $4 million investment in two tranches, to develop new approaches to lower the cost and expand the range of deep hard rock drilling, a critical element to large-scale deployment of EGS.
* Southern Methodist University Geothermal Lab: $489,521 grant to improve understanding of the size and distribution of geothermal energy resources and to update geothermal mapping of North America.
Google has taken concrete steps to reduce its carbon footprint and accelerate improvements in green technology, including:
* Developing cutting-edge energy efficiency technology to power and cool its data centers in the U.S. and around the world using 50% less energy than the industry standard
* Generating electricity for its Mountain View campus from a 1.6 megawatt corporate solar panel installation, one of the largest in the U.S.
* Accelerating development and adoption of plug-in electric vehicles through the RechargeIT initiative