When Google isn’t working out new ways to creatively monetise user information, it’s working on other initiatives like better internet access or renewable energy. In the case of the latter, the company has just announced a new geothermal power project in Nevada that has come online.
You might ask yourself what Google knows about geothermal power. You’d have a point, but a little extra thought would also tell you that they could just, you know, Google it. But yes, the search giant has teamed up with Fervo, a clean-energy specialist, to create a facility that it calls the first of its kind.
An enhanced geothermal system (EGS), if you’re behind on your renewable energy terminology, is when a system makes use of the Earth’s own heat to generate power. There are several drawbacks to using it, not least of which is the proximity to active volcanic activity required, but Google and Fervo reckon they’ve cracked the problem.
The video above gives a very quick overview of the process used but, basically, it doesn’t involve getting too close to any liquid hot magma. It does involve creating steam from underground heat to power turbines that, in turn, produce electricity. This electricity is currently being used to power a few of Google’s data centres. According to the company, it’s always on and always carbon-free.
Google is very keen to explore EGS installations in other parts of the world. It has teamed up with Project Innerspace, which aims to expand the popularity of the power production method around the world. The potential is apparently there for EGS to power a “significant portion of global energy demand”. So if we could just get a couple of folks drilling holes in South Africa next week, that would be great.