Search giant Google's motto may be to do no evil, but it is practically descending into the pits of Hell in pursuit of its new venture. In the continuing effort to develop electricity from renewable energy cheaper than from coal, the company has announced $10.25 million in investments in a breakthrough energy technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) through its philanthropic arm Google.org.
The investment includes funding for research on next-generation geothermal resource mapping, EGS information tools, and a policy agenda for geothermal energy.
To advance EGS, Google.org will invest $6.25 million in AltaRock Energy Inc., $4 million in Potter Drilling Inc., and $489,521 in Southern Methodist University Geothermal Lab.
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 per cent of the heat below the continental US between 3 and 10 kilometres, 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.
"EGS is critical to the clean electricity revolution we need to solve the climate crisis, but EGS hasn't received the attention it merits. That's why we're pressing for expanded support from government and increased investment from the private sector," Reicher added. "We're big believers in EGS and we're looking for more opportunities."
"Innovation is the path to massive quantities of cleaner, cheaper energy. The people we're funding today have a real shot at lowering the cost of EGS, and bringing us closer to our goal of Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal," added Dr. Larry Brilliant, executive director of Google.org. (See: Google joins hunt for cheap renewable energy)