Google’s philanthropic arms, Google.org, is investing a little over $10 million into the development of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS). Rather than extracting heat from the ground a few hundred feet down (or less) as traditional geothermal systems do, EGS goes several kilometers deep into the hot rock under the Earth.
If we could tap just two percent of that heat under the continental United States, one MIT study estimates that would supply more than 2500 times our energy needs. But getting that hot rock cost-effectively will require new technology. (See the video above for an illustration of a 50 megawatt EGS project in Australia).
The money will be broken up in the following way: $6.25 million will go to AltaRock Energy, another $4 million will go to Potter Drilling, and a $500,000 grant will go to a geothermal lab at Southern Methodist University.