Google’s geothermal project with clean energy startup Fervo has gone live, contributing carbon-free energy to the electric grid in Nevada.
The partnership between the two companies began two years ago to develop a geothermal project and make good on Google’s goal of operating its data centers and office campuses on 24/7 carbon-free energy on every grid it operates by 2030.
Google sets its sights on geothermal energy, which leverages heat from the Earth to generate electricity without burning fossil fuels. The first project, now operational, is already providing carbon-free energy to Google’s data centers in Nevada.
Geothermal energy is largely untapped in the United States, though the Department of Energy has been making gains in the space with its Energy Earthshots Initiative. So far, the U.S. has not utilized much of the potential geothermal energy in the Earth’s crust.
Earlier this year, the DOE also shuffled $13 million toward geothermal technology projects with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The total untapped potential of geothermal energy is estimated to be up to 120 gigawatts of capacity in the U.S. by 2050 and generate over 16% of the country’s anticipated electricity needs, according to Google.
Fervo Energy has several ongoing projects tapping geothermal energy. In September, the company announced it began its exploration drilling campaign at Cape Station in Utah, where it is developing a geothermal energy site.
Google touted its partnership with Fervo and the technology used by the company. The project involves two horizontal wells and installed fiber-optic cables that capture data revealing the flow, temperature, and performance of the geothermal system in real-time.
“When we began our partnership with Fervo, we knew that a first-of-a-kind project like this would require a wide range of technical and operational innovations,” Michael Terrell, senior director of energy and climate at Google, wrote in a blog post announcing the project. “Unlike traditional geothermal power, Fervo uses drilling techniques pioneered by the oil and gas industry to harness heat that would have previously been difficult to access.”
Google is further planning more geothermal projects, including a recently announced partnership with Project InnerSpace, a non-profit organization dedicated to the global development of geothermal energy.