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Summary:

Google’s gotten all steamed up on its quest to make renewable energy cheaper than coal and today has announced $10.25 million in investments in geothermal technologies. Specifically, the money is going towards a technology known as “enhanced geothermal systems,” an approach that doesn’t require existing steam […]

Google’s gotten all steamed up on its quest to make renewable energy cheaper than coal and today has announced $10.25 million in investments in geothermal technologies. Specifically, the money is going towards a technology known as “enhanced geothermal systems,” an approach that doesn’t require existing steam vents or subterranean water sources (check out the video from Google after the jump of one of the world’s first commercial EGS plants).

Instead, the EGS method cracks into hot rocks, circulates water through the system and uses the steam to power a traditional turbine. The funds have been split between two startups, AltaRock Energy and Potter Drilling, in addition to a grant for the Southern Methodist University Geothermal Lab.

The money is being deployed through Google.org’s “Renewable Energy Less Than Coal” initiative. The potential of EGS is huge, as it can be set up to generate power almost anywhere. Google cites a recent report by the DOE and MIT on EGS that estimated that 100 gigawatts of cost-competitive power could be generated from EGS with “reasonable investment in R&D.”

  1. AltaRock Energy: $6.25 million investment to develop innovative technologies to achieve significant cost reductions and improved performance in EGS projects. Founded in 2007 by Susan Petty, who worked on the aforementioned MIT EGS study, and Don O’Shei, who served as President and COO of CalEnergy. The company is headquartered in Sausalito, Calif., and is focused on R&D to drive down the cost of EGS in the short-term. Update: Google’s investment was part of a larger round that totaled $26.25 million for AltaRock and included Khosla Ventures, Kleiner
    Perkins Caufield & Byers and Vulcan Capital.
  2. Potter Drilling: $4 million investment to develop new approaches to lower the cost and expand the range of deep, hard-rock drilling specifically for EGS development. Founded in 2004 by father and son Bob and Jared Potter, the company pulls on the experience of Potter the Elder who worked on EGS at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the 1970s.
  3. Southern Methodist University Geothermal Laboratory: $489,521 grant to improve understanding of the size and distribution of geothermal energy resources and to update geothermal mapping of North America. The most recent map of America’s geothermal resources was printed in 2005.

Google says the funds will also push forward a policy agenda for geothermal energy. As Google continues to make energy investments, policy will be an increasingly important factor. In Google.org’s most recent blog post, the philanthropic arm of the search giant calls for “more aggressive government policies to help catch up to other nations, including expanded R&D funding, a national renewable portfolio standard, and reliable tax incentives.”

Google.org continues to expand its energy portfolio this summer. The green energy initiative started off last year with plays in wind, with stealthy Makani, and solar, with Bill Gross’s eSolar, and made mention of intentions to invest in geothermal. Google built out its solar plays with a big investment in BrightSource. Then, earlier this summer, following Google.org’s conference on plug-in electric cars, the firm invested in electric transportation in Aptera and ActaCell.

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  1. Google sinks cash into Geothermal Tuesday, August 19, 2008

    [...] the web giant that’s been doubling as a cleantech venture capital firm, has made another set of investments. This time, Google’s put $10.24 million into geothermal [...]

  2. Google Blows $5M More Into Makani’s High Altitude Wind « Earth2Tech Monday, August 25, 2008

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  3. AltaRock Seals Deal to Explore for Hot Rocks « Earth2Tech Tuesday, September 2, 2008

    [...] 14-month-old startup is flush with $26.25 million of recent funding, including $6.25 million from Google.org and investments from Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Paul Allen’s [...]

  4. The Daily Sprout « Earth2Tech Thursday, September 4, 2008

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  5. Google and GE Join Up to Tackle Energy Policy & Tech « Earth2Tech Wednesday, September 17, 2008

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  6. Google and GE Join Up to Tackle Energy Policy & Tech | Eco Friendly Mag Wednesday, September 17, 2008

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  7. Google and GE Join Up to Tackle Energy Policy & Tech [Earth2Tech - Start-Up News] | Internet Startups Wednesday, September 17, 2008

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  9. Solar Feeds Gadgets » Google and GE Join Up to Tackle Energy Policy & Tech Thursday, September 18, 2008

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  10. Google is the #2 Cleantech Investor in the Third Quarter « Earth2Tech Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    [...] and Google invested in 5 startups for the period, including lithium ion battery startup Actacell, geothermal company AltaRock Energy, electric vehicle makers Aptera Motors, high-altitude wind developer Makani Power, and geothermal [...]

  11. Google No. 2 Cleantech Venture Investor in Q3 – GigaOM Thursday, October 2, 2008

    [...] 30, according to a report from the Cleantech Group, including lithium-ion battery startup Actacell, geothermal company AltaRock Energy, electric vehicle makers Aptera Motors, high-altitude wind developer Makani Power, and geothermal [...]

  12. Solar Feeds Gadgets » Google, No. 2 Cleantech Venture Investor in Q3 Thursday, October 2, 2008

    [...] of deals; Google invested in five startups for the period: lithium-ion battery startup Actacell, geothermal company AltaRock Energy, electric vehicle makers Aptera Motors, high-altitude wind developer Makani Power, and geothermal [...]

  13. 3TIER Mapping World’s Solar, Wind and Hydro Resources « Earth2Tech Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    [...] certainly make use of high-resolution energy maps. 3TIER’s maps could perfectly compliment Google’s recent grant to Southern Methodist University Geothermal Laboratory to update a very similar geothermal energy map. And Google Earth has been adding layers of data [...]

  14. 3TIER Mapping World’s Solar, Wind and Hydro Resources Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    [...] certainly make use of high-resolution energy maps. 3TIER’s maps could perfectly compliment Google’s recent grant to Southern Methodist University Geothermal Laboratory to update a very similar geothermal energy map. And Google Earth has been adding layers of data [...]

  15. John Doerr: Green Is What’s Growing in the Valley « Earth2Tech Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    [...] The current level of venture investment in cleantech — now the third largest investment area — isn’t even all that much, said Doerr, considering the massive opportunity. Two areas he sees that are underfunded are energy storage, including batteries and super capacitors, and geothermal power. Kleiner has invested in a geothermal startup, AltraRock Energy. [...]

  16. John Doerr: Green Is What’s Growing in the Valley Thursday, November 6, 2008

    [...] John Doerr, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ high profile green venture capitalist, told attendees at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco on Wednesday that cleantech is what’s growing in Silicon Valley. Perhaps not what a room full of Internet entrepreneurs wanted to hear, but Doerr and KPCB have changed investing strategies over the past couple years to reflect that trend — a third of Kleiner’s latest fund is allocated for cleantech and a third for digital media/web companies. The current level of venture investment in cleantech — now the third largest investment area — isn’t even all that much, said Doerr, considering the massive opportunity. Two areas he sees that are underfunded are energy storage, including batteries and super capacitors, and geothermal power. KPCB has invested in a geothermal startup, AltraRock Energy. [...]

  17. First Up for Google Ventures: Silver Spring’s Smart Grid Tuesday, March 31, 2009

    [...] finding early stage companies, like electric car company Aptera, solar thermal company eSolar and geothermal firm AltaRock Energy, but it remains to be seen yet whether any of these companies will [...]

  18. First Up for Google Ventures: Silver Spring’s Smart Grid « Clean Tech News Tuesday, March 31, 2009

    [...] at finding early-stage companies, like electric car maker Aptera, solar thermal company eSolar and geothermal firm AltaRock Energy, but it remains to be seen whether any of these companies will [...]

  19. Australia’s Geothermal Industry to Heat Up Monday, April 20, 2009

    [...] enhanced geothermal project from MNGI uses similar technology to one that’s been backed by Google in the U.S., and holds the promise of lowering the cost and expanding the geographical limitations [...]

  20. Google to Congress: Go Big On Enhanced Geothermal, Smart Meters Thursday, April 23, 2009

    [...] deliver vast quantities of power 24/7 and be captured nearly anywhere on the planet.” As we noted at the time, Google also said it would use the funds to push forward a policy agenda for geothermal energy. [...]

  21. Geothermal Might Be Heating Up, But Still Tepid for Investors Thursday, March 11, 2010

    [...] of the most high profile backers of advanced geothermal tech has been Google. In 2008 Google invested $10.25 million into AltaRock Energy, Potter Drilling, and the Southern Methodist [...]

  22. william p westmoreland Sunday, March 28, 2010

    mine the ocean for chemicals and in the process desalt the water, so that the cost will be lower and enviromental friendly. wpw.

  23. Hydraulic rock Drill HK Thursday, June 17, 2010

    Enhanced geothermal systems is really good technology to shift from old energy source to new and modern sources.

  24. Manpower Nepal Thursday, June 17, 2010

    I like the video of of EGS.It is really good.Thanks for every thing.

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