Arno's EnergyIdeas (20)
Also Google is going green
According to latest reports, worldwide search engine leader Google is now turning green, too. If this movement continues, it may hopefully become common. But let us follow the sequence: After initial rumors in the scene about the commitment of Google in renewable energies, on August 18, 2008 this message flashed up: "Google is investing 10 million in renewable energy!" This is good to know, however, it is: 1st) 10 Mio in U.S. $, according to current exchange rate around 7 million Euro and 2nd) the money consist of grants for two commercial companies and one research institute on geothermal energy, so-called "Enhanced Geothermal Systems” (EGS). For which periods these grants are foreseen, was not mentioned. All in all, a step in the right direction.
The grants come from Goggle.org, the philanthropic foundation of Google Inc. Until August 2008 Google.org has spent more than 95 million U.S. $ in form of grants and investments for a total of 55 initiatives for the following themes: “Develop Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal”, “RechargeIT”, “Predict and Prevent, Inform and Empower to Improve Public Fuel Services” and the “Growth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises”.
The ten U.S. $ million announced now are inted for:
>>>Alta Rock Energy Inc. of Sausalito, CA: U.S. $ 6.25 million investment to develop
innovative technologies to achieve significant cost reduction and improved
Performance in EGS projects.
>>> Potter Drilling Inc. of Redwood City, CA (15 stone Am Rhein Ct.): 4
U.S. $ million investment to develop new approaches for deep drilling in hard rock,
a crucial element for large-scale deployment of EGS.
>>> Southern Methodist University's Geothermal Lab, Department of Geological Sciences
from Dallas, TX: 490.000 U.S. $ grant to a better understanding of the size and
Distribution of geothermal energy and resources, based on current geothermal
mapping of North America.
Everything sounds good, however, in the end this are only "papers" or studies, which are certainly important and not to be underestimated. However: Why invest a company like Google with more than 10,000 Employees worldwide and a turnover of 5,37 billion U.S. $ and a net income in the amount of 1,25 Billion U.S. $ alone in 2nd Quarter of 2008 (!) In the optimization of a rather "old" Renewable Technology, which repeatedly called into criticism,
As the structure of the rock formation may be subject to change and thus to cause tiny earthquakes? This question may be allowed at this point.
Particularly as in Unterhaching, near Munich, Germany, the largest geothermal power plant with a maximum power of 3.4 megawatts (MW) has been working successful for some years. 72 million Euros, the futuristic Project, according to the local geothermal company Unterhaching GmbH & Co KG, was costing until now. It is financed, apart from few federal grants, especially through the 22,000 residents from the town of Unterhaching by becoming shereholders in the company.
About 120 degrees Celsius hot water was found there in 3,300 meters. As a source of
house heating the installation is working for quite some time: 2,000 households are already connecting to the geothermal heating system. Further more, in Unterhaching the two
uses of geothermal energy, heat and electricity supply, succeeded the first time together in a facility: At a temperature range from 60 to 122 degrees Celsius, all year round to about 38 MW of thermal Energy will be available. These can be either, depending on the weather, utlized for the production of heat or of electricty (up to 3.4 MW).
From the first holes to the flow of electricity from geothermal energy, it takes here in Germany from three to five years. Unlike solar and wind energy, geothermal energy projects need a long time to develop. German experts expect, that by 2020, a minimum of one gigawatt (1 GW) of geothermal energy as ´Power plant capacity will be installed. This would be equivalent to the electricity production of a large nuclear power plant. Even Iceland would be happy to exchange the experience they are having in geothermal energy in their country with Google.
What would be even greater of course, if Google or other company of similar magnitude
would not only invest in "conventional" renewable energy, but in truly new forms
of energy conversion and storage, e.g. in direct solar hydrogen production (without the use of
Electricity) and decentralized energy converters without combustion engines or turbines. That
would be something. But perhaps the real lobbying for hydrogen and fuel cells is currently not sufficient enough world wide.