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Published on August 19th, 2008 | by Ariel Schwartz

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Google Investing Over $10 Million in Geothermal Energy



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Geothermal energy has finally hit the big time. Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, announced today that it is investing $10.25 million in an energy technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). The funding will also go towards geothermal resource mapping, information tools, and a geothermal energy policy agenda.

And it looks like Google made a wise investment choice. According to an MIT report on EGS, only 2% of the heat beneath the continental US between 3 and 10 kilometers (depths we can reach with current technology) is more than 2,500 the annual energy use of the United States.

While traditional geothermal energy relies on finding natural pockets of hot water and steam, EGS fractures the hot rock, circulates water in its system, and uses the steam created from the process to create electricity in a turbine.

The investments will go towards three institutions: AltaRock Energy, Potter Drilling, and the Southern Methodist University Geothermal Lab.

Google’s funding may just be the push we need to really get geothermal off the ground, once again proving that government funding and initiatives can’t do everything. Substantial change can only come when private investors and corporations decide to help out—whatever their motives may be.

More Posts on Geothermal Energy:

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About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.



  • VASANT KALENARHAR

    great google is doing ecofrindly work .but google must provide total power for internet business from renewable energy source & publish the details

  • http://eggcomfort.com June

    Good to know a big company like google is investing in geothermal technology. It is much more energy efficient and has a lot of potential that isn’t being realized.

  • http://eggcomfort.com June

    Good to know a big company like google is investing in geothermal technology. It is much more energy efficient and has a lot of potential that isn’t being realized.

  • http://www.commercialgeothermalac.com MinnieE

    Geothermal is the way to go. I know there has been a big boom here in Florida in recent years. Way to go google!

  • http://www.commercialgeothermalac.com MinnieE

    Geothermal is the way to go. I know there has been a big boom here in Florida in recent years. Way to go google!

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  • http://www.geothermalexperts.net/ Henry

    It’s great to see that it’s not just the government creating interest in geothermal technology. Hopefully this will get the ball rolling on making improvements in our energy crisis.

  • http://www.geothermalexperts.net/ Henry

    It’s great to see that it’s not just the government creating interest in geothermal technology. Hopefully this will get the ball rolling on making improvements in our energy crisis.

  • russ

    Ten million whole dollars! Chump change for Google but it does help the green image for fools to look at.

    If some of the whiners would just bother to look the government has been investing billions for the past 30 years in many different energy technologies. But no, it is easier and more fun to whine.

  • russ

    Ten million whole dollars! Chump change for Google but it does help the green image for fools to look at.

    If some of the whiners would just bother to look the government has been investing billions for the past 30 years in many different energy technologies. But no, it is easier and more fun to whine.

  • http://www.basisrente.net/ Basisrente

    WOW! This is a “huge” investment. ;)

  • http://www.basisrente.net/ Basisrente

    WOW! This is a “huge” investment. ;)

  • bruce

    Google is just sticking its toe into the water here, as always, being smart. Google is like the braintrust of mankind, really…they have so many smart people on board.

    I’ve followed this company for awhile. They know what they are doing, and this is not philanthropy, but a chance to cash in beyond the wildest dreams of ExxonMobil or BP. This, in addition to the Wind and Solar investments, could easily power the world several times over.

    Transmission is a problem, and that problem will likely be accomplished via hydrogen, from what i gather.

    BUT…both Geothermal and Wind can be localized to a great degree. Solar to a lessor extent, obviously.

    But if you go high enough, or low enough, you can find wind and heat anywhere on Earth… It will be a few years, but mankind has more energy than a million Las Vegas’s could use, and it’s totally clean and infinite.

    10 Million is nothing…next time it will be 10 billion. watch.

  • bruce

    Google is just sticking its toe into the water here, as always, being smart. Google is like the braintrust of mankind, really…they have so many smart people on board.

    I’ve followed this company for awhile. They know what they are doing, and this is not philanthropy, but a chance to cash in beyond the wildest dreams of ExxonMobil or BP. This, in addition to the Wind and Solar investments, could easily power the world several times over.

    Transmission is a problem, and that problem will likely be accomplished via hydrogen, from what i gather.

    BUT…both Geothermal and Wind can be localized to a great degree. Solar to a lessor extent, obviously.

    But if you go high enough, or low enough, you can find wind and heat anywhere on Earth… It will be a few years, but mankind has more energy than a million Las Vegas’s could use, and it’s totally clean and infinite.

    10 Million is nothing…next time it will be 10 billion. watch.

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  • Just Watching

    So much could be done! Soooooooo few doing anything.

    Way to go Google.

  • Just Watching

    So much could be done! Soooooooo few doing anything.

    Way to go Google.

  • Just Watching

    So many things could be done! Soooooooooo few doing anything. Way to go Google!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Just Watching

    So many things could be done! Soooooooooo few doing anything. Way to go Google!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://thealternativeenergyinvestor.blogspot.com Ray The Money Man

    I think it’s great they are willing to invest in it but I want them to watch our stock price to!

    http://thealternativeenergyinvestor.blogspot.com

  • http://thealternativeenergyinvestor.blogspot.com Ray The Money Man

    I think it’s great they are willing to invest in it but I want them to watch our stock price to!

    http://thealternativeenergyinvestor.blogspot.com

  • http://www.squidoo.com/extra-m

    Google has balls. I hope it all works out for them for this project. I’m not saying I agree with all of it, but, lets see what happens.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/extra-money-to-your-paypal

    Google has balls. I hope it all works out for them for this project. I’m not saying I agree with all of it, but, lets see what happens.

  • Hermann Winters

    Generating electricity by developing alternative ways is all well and good.The more the merrier.But the real energy crisis is in how to find alternative ways to power our transportation vehicles(cars,trucks,planes)or turn oil into a commodity instead of a strategic commodity.Anne Korin has a very good past example of this and a way to do the same thing with oil.

  • Hermann Winters

    Generating electricity by developing alternative ways is all well and good.The more the merrier.But the real energy crisis is in how to find alternative ways to power our transportation vehicles(cars,trucks,planes)or turn oil into a commodity instead of a strategic commodity.Anne Korin has a very good past example of this and a way to do the same thing with oil.

  • GTS

    Geothermal has great potential as a major source of clean base load power in this country.

  • GTS

    Geothermal has great potential as a major source of clean base load power in this country.

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  • http://la-romani.com ALiK

    We all know Google is pretty picky regarding it’s investments… Does anybody else smell a future “G Geo-thermal Plant” ?

    …well, if we can all live better, then GG Google.

  • http://la-romani.com ALiK

    We all know Google is pretty picky regarding it’s investments… Does anybody else smell a future “G Geo-thermal Plant” ?

    …well, if we can all live better, then GG Google.

  • Russ Dyson

    I’m telling you dude, One day Google is going to rule the world, you just wait and see!

    RD

    http://www.decrypt.net.tc

  • Russ Dyson

    I’m telling you dude, One day Google is going to rule the world, you just wait and see!

    RD

    http://www.decrypt.net.tc

  • Ben

    I think it’s great. Of course it’s not the answer to our problems. We’re going to get through this century by incorporating many different ideas and technologies to slowly wax into clean and renewable energy. Moves like this are a small, but necessary step on the long road to what comes next. 10 Million is not a lot. But it is certainly more than I have donated.

  • Ben

    I think it’s great. Of course it’s not the answer to our problems. We’re going to get through this century by incorporating many different ideas and technologies to slowly wax into clean and renewable energy. Moves like this are a small, but necessary step on the long road to what comes next. 10 Million is not a lot. But it is certainly more than I have donated.

  • http://www.misterinfo.de/users/erichansa erichansa

    googel must be crazy

  • http://www.misterinfo.de/users/erichansa erichansa

    googel must be crazy

  • http://www.krazd.com Krazd

    If google thinks it will work well, it will most likely work well.

    anyone know if they bought shares of certain companies for this technology or what?

  • http://www.krazd.com Krazd

    If google thinks it will work well, it will most likely work well.

    anyone know if they bought shares of certain companies for this technology or what?

  • Peanuts

    $10m? I think we’re going to need a little more than 10 bars if we are to ever get out of this rut. The only way you get giants interested, is by offering them bait, this 10 million dollar worm-on-a-hook looks dismal.

  • Peanuts

    $10m? I think we’re going to need a little more than 10 bars if we are to ever get out of this rut. The only way you get giants interested, is by offering them bait, this 10 million dollar worm-on-a-hook looks dismal.

  • http://www.water4gas-scam.bestdealsreviews.com Chuck

    SO geothermal energy can be used for different purposes? It can even be used to produce hydrogen from water? Just like solar panels or electricity? Is it the heat energy or can it be used directly as energy?

  • http://www.water4gas-scam.bestdealsreviews.com Chuck

    SO geothermal energy can be used for different purposes? It can even be used to produce hydrogen from water? Just like solar panels or electricity? Is it the heat energy or can it be used directly as energy?

  • Chet

    I would say that the biggest hurdle of both geothermal and wind is the transmission line infrastructure. That and we haven’t heard from the coal fired electrial plant types. Citi recently funded numerous coal fired powerplants and the petro/coal big will not just passively by and let this happen. Watch for increased propaganda from those quarters seeking to debunk global warming and carbon issues. This should be interesting.

  • Chet

    I would say that the biggest hurdle of both geothermal and wind is the transmission line infrastructure. That and we haven’t heard from the coal fired electrial plant types. Citi recently funded numerous coal fired powerplants and the petro/coal big will not just passively by and let this happen. Watch for increased propaganda from those quarters seeking to debunk global warming and carbon issues. This should be interesting.

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  • http://energystrain.blogspot.com Zach

    The nice thing about Google investing in geothermal is the fact that private industry is trying to do something about the energy crisis. Geothermal is a good direction for power generation.

  • http://energystrain.blogspot.com Zach

    The nice thing about Google investing in geothermal is the fact that private industry is trying to do something about the energy crisis. Geothermal is a good direction for power generation.

  • http://www.10000listings.com yannis

    With a backing like Google…real change looks realistic. Hopefully this will get other giants to invest, if they know what good for them.

  • http://www.10000listings.com yannis

    With a backing like Google…real change looks realistic. Hopefully this will get other giants to invest, if they know what good for them.

  • Chris V

    Substantial change could come about by the government IF the government actually acted. The problem there is that we’ve had a Republican Congress for 14 of the last 16 years and we’ve had a Republican President for the last 8 years. No Republican lawmaker wants this kind of technology, not when it would mean taking money out of the hands of the oil companies.

  • Chris V

    Substantial change could come about by the government IF the government actually acted. The problem there is that we’ve had a Republican Congress for 14 of the last 16 years and we’ve had a Republican President for the last 8 years. No Republican lawmaker wants this kind of technology, not when it would mean taking money out of the hands of the oil companies.

  • http://www.GeothermalInvesting.com edwards

    With Google’s spotlight on geothermal, investment in that sector is bound to soar. (And this comes right after T.BoonePickens puts his money behind wind energy!) Stock peddlers are bidding up websites like geothermalinvesting.com and investinginwindpower.com, to get the word out to the masses. If Congress steps in with more incentives (which they will under Obama), the sky is the limit for these energy plays.

  • http://www.GeothermalInvesting.com edwards

    With Google’s spotlight on geothermal, investment in that sector is bound to soar. (And this comes right after T.BoonePickens puts his money behind wind energy!) Stock peddlers are bidding up websites like geothermalinvesting.com and investinginwindpower.com, to get the word out to the masses. If Congress steps in with more incentives (which they will under Obama), the sky is the limit for these energy plays.

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