Geothermal energy: Google.org invests $10 million

Google.org has now invested a bit over $10 million in geothermal technology. Here are some resource links from the google.org blog:

Today, as part of our Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal initiative, Google.org announced more than $10 million in investments and grants in Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) technology. EGS expands the potential of traditional geothermal energy by orders of magnitude. The traditional geothermal approach relies on finding naturally occurring pockets of steam or 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.

EGS has the potential to provide clean renewable electricity 24/7, at a cost cheaper than coal. The ability to produce electricity from geothermal energy has been thought exclusive to locations such as California and Iceland. However EGS could allow us to harness the heat within the earth almost anywhere. To see see the massive size of the US geothermal resource accessible by EGS, check out our Google Earth layer.

Our EGS partners to date include:

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 Laboratory: $489,521 grant to improve understanding of the size and distribution of geothermal energy resources and to update geothermal mapping of North America

Working with Geodynamics, one of the world’s leading EGS development companies, we modeled Geodynamics’ first 50 MW system at the Cooper Basin in SketchUp, Google’s 3D modeling technology. To see how EGS works, check out the animation of the SketchUp model or download it.

I recommend the short video on EGS produced by Google.org:

Popular Mechanics summarizes five “next-gen” geothermal projects.

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