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Google spends $10m on hot rocks

Imagine if you were watching a production of Romeo and Juliet unfold, only at the end to see Juliet ditch her would-be prince in favour of one of the lesser cast members. The Nurse, perhaps. It would be a bit of a surprise, no?

Greenbang is experiencing a similar degree of puzzlement after hearing that Google’s philanthropic arm is investing in geothermal energy, but didn’t seal the deal with Isreali firm Ormat.

Earlier this year, you see, certain folk were abuzz with discussion that Ormat was a takeover target for Google. Alas, it seems that romance has died on the vine and Google has directed its love elsewhere.

Google announced yesterday that it is spending $10m investing in geothermal, broken down like this:

  • AltaRock Energy: $6.25m investment to develop innovative technologies to achieve significant cost reductions and improved performance in EGS [Enhanced Geothermal Systems] projects.
  • Potter Drilling: $4m 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 Lab: $489,521 grant to improve understanding of the size and distribution of geothermal energy resources and to update geothermal mapping of North America.

If you’re wondering how EGS is different from the bog standard geothermal you may have heard of, Greenbang will let Google explain:

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.

According to MIT, if we just drilled between 3 and 10km below the surface of the US, we’d have 2,500 times the energy the country uses every year at our disposal. How cool would that be?

Google spends $10m on hot rocks – The Global View

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