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Google is Turning Geothermal Energy to Power Moonshot

Environmental ambitions of Google are exceedingly lofty. By 2030, Google wants to run its whole operation on carbon-free energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The moonshot gained a boost at Google I/O 2021, with the news will use “next-generation” geothermal energy to power data centers and infrastructure across Nevada. Kate Brandt, Google sustainability officer, said, “We are the first corporate to sign an agreement to develop next-generation geothermal.”

The deal is with Fervo Energy, a sustainable energy business that aims to “unlock” geothermal resources’ potential. Starting from next year, Fervo will work with Google to add geothermal energy to Nevada’s grid. It would supplement the area’s existing renewable energy sources, allowing Google to achieve its 24/7 aspirations. Geothermal power plants get their energy from the Earth’s heat.

Google is Turning Geothermal Energy to Power MoonshotDeep beneath the Earth’s surface, radioactive material decays, and magma heats water, which will provide an unlimited supply of energy if you can get to it. For millennia, humans have captured geothermal energy wherever heat rises to the surface, such as in a hot spring. The water on the surface is warm (even scalding!) since it was heated by the Earth about 12,000 years ago during the Old Stone Age.

Graham Heinson, a geophysicist at the University of Adelaide, said, “It is a phenomenally great source of energy. And there is huge amounts of trapped heat in the Earth that could power enormous parts of the world.”

Drilling wells into the ground and extracting hot water from there can harness the heat in modern times. This steam and hot water are pumped to the surface, where it powers a turbine that produces clean electricity. In Iceland, for example, “conventional” geothermal energy accounts for almost two-thirds of the country’s primary energy use.

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