Mega search engine Google.com, today announced an investment of $10.25 million in advancing the development of green technologies. Google is supporting a technology called, Enhanced Geothermal Systems, to help meet its goal of providing enough green energy to power a city the size of San Francisco. Through Google’s philanthropic entity Google.org, an initiative dubbed “Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal” has been laid out to make this goal a reality.
Enhanced Geothermal Systems generates energy by pumping cool water 2-3 miles into a reservoir lying on top of dry, hot basement rock. The water is then pumped back to the surface at which point in condenses and creates powerful steam that is used to propel turbines. After the steam cools, it is re-injected back into the reservoir to begin the process again. This process allows energy extraction in areas that do not have natural steam pockets and hot flowing water.
The investments pledged by Google will go to help fund 2 companies and a university working on the development of Enhanced Geothermal Systems. $6.25 million will go to AltaRock Energy, Inc, which will work to reduce the cost and efficiency of EGS technology. Potter Drilling, Inc. has been given $4 million to design drilling tools capable of penetrating deeper and stronger rock. Southern Methodist University Geothermal Lab has been awarded a $489,521 grant to update geothermal maps and study geothermal resources in North America.
Google has recently been involved in many steps to reduce its environmental footprint and promote green technology. Data centers housing Google servers, are being designed to cut the energy needed for cooling to 50% of similar installations. The idea is not only to save money, but to create a self sufficient business model that promotes clean energy. This initiative is evident in the production of a 1.6 megawatt solar energy plant in Mountain View, California. Other projects include the Climate Savers Computing Initiative to create more efficient computers and servers, and the RechargeIT initiative aimed at developing electric vehicles and infrastructure.
Though $10.25 million may seem like a small amount to a power house company like Google, it shows considerable attention is being provided to changing the way we look at natural resources and energy generation. Google has the resources and intelligence to begin to leave a legacy that varies far from just creating one of the most popular websites of all time. Funding and support by Google leaders will help to attract more corporations with the potential for a green technology revolution. Though energy change falls on the hands of every citizen, major projects can not be completed without the funding and backing of large groups such as Google.
Google has also provided an EGS policy brief to outline what the U.S. Government can do to help encourage the production and continued innovation of this technology.