The tech giant just opened Project Red, its first geothermal power plant based in Nevada. With the help of innovative technology, it aims for carbon neutrality by 2030.
Of course, Google wants to do good. And make your data centers, big consumers of electricity, cleaner. But Mountain View also recognizes that this is a sector with a bright future. And on which it is not stupid to take a position immediately. According to a study it funded, the potential would be huge and could represent ten times the output of all coal-fired power plants combined.
Currently, geothermal energy is very little used and is now on the rise. Thanks to horizontal drilling techniques, the plant that Google opened in partnership with Fervo Energy can reach heat pockets located almost 8 kilometers underground. Engineers fracture rocks at depth to make them porous before injecting water. When it comes into contact with the hot stone, it heats up and rises to the surface in the form of steam, which drives the turbine.
Delivered to 750 American homes
Geothermal energy has many advantages. Available 24/7 (unlike solar and wind which depend on weather conditions), its footprint is minimal compared to wind or photovoltaics. Additionally, once drilling is done, its operating costs are low.
For Google, this partnership is part of an overall decarbonization strategy. The company has set a goal of achieving net zero emissions for all its data centers and offices by 2030. Initially, Project Red will power two Google data centers located in Nevada. If the results are as expected, we will see bigger things.
8 kilometers deep to find foci of heat
Because the oil start-up Fervo is already working on a factory of a completely different dimension. It is currently building a 400-megawatt geothermal plant in Utah, sixty times more powerful than the one in Nevada, which is expected to start operating in 2026 before being fully operational in 2028. With its colossal financial resources, Google (Alphabet ) could well provide support of this still confidential renewable energy. And take the lead in a race that Apple, Microsoft and others are sure to take part in…