Google Backs Clean Volcano Power

$43m(€34m) are being invested in a project seeking to obtain geothermal power in Oregon

By on January 16th, 2012 07:38 GMT

Giant companies are doing their best to turn their backs on dirty, coal-dependent power and exploit the advantages of intelligent, eco-friendly energy.

Microsoft, Facebook. Apple and Google are no strangers to environmental preservation correlated with a smart business strategy. This time, volcano power is under the spotlight, in the US.

Google and the Department of Energy have decided to back a geothermal project in Oregon with no less than $43 million(€34m), hoping to witness the development of a green source of power which is also supposed to be cost-efficient.

This new project marks the partnership between two companies: AltaRock Energy, Inc. from Seattle and Davenport Newberry Holdings LLC from Stamford, Conn.

The source is a dormant volcano, Newberry Volcano, located in Central Oregon. The process is quite simple. Workers will have to pump 24 million gallons of water in the volcano to obtain steam, which will be exploited further to supply homes and businesses with cheap, environmentally friendly power.

Even if projects seeking to boost unconventional ways of obtaining energy are still in their infancy, volcano power is not as new as some would be tempted to think. One geothermal power plant located on Guadeloupe has been functioning for more than two decades.

Moreover, since it appears to be much more predictable and reliable than solar and wind power, geothermal energy was taken into consideration in Oregon and California a few years ago, but two major projects of this kind were put on hold over safety concerns.

It seems that alternative sources of are far from being risk-free and not only fracturing is blamed for its impact on the wellbeing of people and the environment. Experts indicate that pumping water into the volcano can lead to devastating earthquakes.

Even under these circumstances, exploiting geothermal power is considered a great method of obtaining cheap, renewable power. Moreover, there is still one bump in the road. The process requires an enormous amount of water.

In order to solve this issue, developers are thinking about building and installing a large reservoir made of the same kind of plastic polymers that are used to obtain biodegradable cups, for a minimal impact on the environment.

All in all, the projects looks great on paper. Tests will be conducted soon to test the efficiency of volcano power in Oregon, to see if it can be considered a smart investment in the long term. 
Geothermal borehole outside the Reykjavik Power Station
   Geothermal borehole outside the Reykjavik Power Station
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