Google.org announced more than $10 million in investments and grants in Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) technology. EGS expands the potential of traditional geothermal energy by orders of magnitude. The traditional geothermal approach relies on finding naturally occurring pockets of steam or hot water. The EGS process, by comparison, replicates these conditions by fracturing hot rock, circulating water through the system, and using the resulting steam to produce electricity in a conventional turbine.
EGS has the potential to provide clean renewable electricity 24/7, at a cost cheaper than coal. The ability to produce electricity from geothermal energy has been thought exclusive to locations such as California and Iceland. However EGS could allow us to harness the heat within the earth almost anywhere. To see see the massive size of the US geothermal resource accessible by EGS, check out our Google Earth layer. For more on EGS, watch this video, featuring Dr. Steve Chu, Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Dr. Jefferson Tester, professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and lead author of a major recent study on EGS: