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Published on October 13th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan


Google Hits Geothermal Jackpot in West Virginia

October 13th, 2010 by  

Along with the great news that Google is investing a ton of money in an offshore wind energy superhighway, other recent Google energy news is that a Google-funded project has discovered enough geothermal potential under a rather infamous coal state — West Virginia — to more than double the state’s electricity generation capacity.

Google gave the Southern Methodist University a $481,500 grant to look into this issue and the research findings were huge.

78% more geothermal energy is under the state than was previously expected.

The implications are rather clear: West Virginia could kick its dirty coal and mountaintop removal habit and start tapping into geothermal. This would be a benefit for the state economically and environmentally, meaning a better quality of life for its residents.

It could also help the country become more energy secure.

“The presence of a large, baseload, carbon neutral and sustainable energy resource in West Virginia could make an important contribution to enhancing the US energy security and for decreasing CO2 emissions,” the report concluded.

West Virginia currently has an electricity generating capacity of 16,350 MW (~97% of that coming from coal power), but the report concluded that if only 2% of the state’s geothermal energy were recovered, it could produce up to 18,890 MW of capacity from clean energy.

At this point, Google, becoming more and more of an energy leader, has invested $10 million into advanced geothermal energy systems. I am loving this company.

(Note: of course, given the politics in West Virginia, I wonder what it will take to get the state to tap into this clean energy source… see video below of Democratic Senate nominee and current Governor Joe Manchin & read the commentary in the link above in case you don’t catch the ridiculousness of this video.)

via Business Green

Related Stories:
1) “Cascading” Geothermal Energy Could Revive Small Towns with New Green Jobs
2) Department of Energy Digs Up More Green Jobs with $20 Million for New Geothermal Projects

Photo Credit: buttersweet via flickr

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

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  • Geothermal energy is often the great hope of renewable energy as it can be continuously and reliably produced 24/7. While it it has the best potential, it is very limited geographically.

  • Pingback: Stimulus Bill Has Put Almost 8 GW of Geothermal Energy on US Grid – CleanTechnica: Cleantech innovation news and views()

  • Great way to get some Senate votes for clean energy from the South, we need them!

  • Rebecca J

    Had to gigle at the comment of “better quality of life” for us poor ‘ole hicks in WV. We are enjoying our lives here with lower unemployment numbers than alot of the nation as well as being in good shape financially…we certainly aren’t bankrupt like California! We also are enjoying our reclaimed surface mining sites that are giving way to exciting new ventures, such as the Bechtel Family Summit, High Adventure Camp for the Boy Scouts of America. Located on 10,000 acres of reclaimed surface mining, this project is possible in this rugged mountainous region of the New River Gorge. The obvious bias of this article shows how little is known about the mining industry and the fact that 50% of the nation’s energy relies on the coal produced here. Geothermal is great, but it will be a very long time until you can get it to the grid….so in the meantime, if you want to keep your lights on, please don’t use the proposed benefits of improving our lives here as something to hang your hat on!

    • @Rebecca J: we’re quite aware of what coal provides. but it is not a source of energy the world wants for the future. it is having horrible effects on people’s health (and thus their pocketbooks) and that is only expected to get worse if we don’t switch to cleaner sources of energy fast.

    • Matthew

      WV coal is low quality, HIGH SULFUR. most is shipped to China. It does not power the US. King Coal has been killing our citizens for decades. It’s time for new industry in WV.

    • Wfeims01

      Obviously, you are a strong supporter of coal mining. Perhaps you have turned a blind eye to the destruction and lives it has claimed. How many more people have to die so you can enjoy the comforts of turning on a light switch. Renewables are the future and I am going to make sure it happens. So you coal loving fool, you can either support my efforts for a safer, cleaner, west virginia or stay out of my way because anybody who tries to stop geothermal energy from coming to west virginia just might get their feelings hurt.

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