A Googol of Heat Beneath Our Feet

slice of the earth

The energy from the heat beneath the earth's surface is essentially an unlimited resource. What if it could be developed to help solve our energy challenges and fight global warming? Enhanced Geothermal Systems, or EGS, attempts to do just that. EGS produces heat and electricity by harnessing the energy from hot rock deep below the earth's surface, expanding the potential of traditional geothermal energy by orders of magnitude. EGS is a big challenge, but with the potential to power the world many times over, it demands our immediate attention. At Google we support efforts to advance EGS through R&D, investment, policy and information.

For more information about Enhanced Geothermal Systems, see the videos below as well as our EGS FAQ page.

Enhanced Geothermal Systems Potential in Google Earth

Our partners at the SMU Geothermal Lab recently conducted a new study on the potential for EGS in the continental U.S., incorporating tens of thousands of new thermal data points to create the most data rich maps of U.S. geothermal resources to date. The results are compliant with the new global geothermal mapping protocol, which is now recognized by the International Energy Agency and the International Geothermal Association. The project estimates that Technical Potential for the continental U.S. exceeds 2,980,295 megawatts using Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) and other advanced geothermal technologies such as Low Temperature Hydrothermal.

The file linked below will allow you to explore the new EGS maps in Google Earth. It shows EGS Potential for depths from 3km to 6.5km (6.5km to 10km is considered "theoretical potential"). The calculations exclude inaccessible zones such as National Parks and other protected lands. If you do not have the latest version of Google Earth installed, you can download it here.

heat map Open in Google Earth (550kb KMZ file - last updated: 10/24/11)

Image: Website Heat Map Image: Website Explore by StateExplore U.S. Geothermal Resources by Depth and by State

Investing in Enhanced Geothermal Systems

Google.org has made the following grants and investments to help advance EGS:

Video: Intro to Enhanced Geothermal Systems

Video: An animation of the 50 MW Habanero EGS system, under development in Australia's Cooper Basin. The 3-D models featured are available for download below and can be viewed in Google SketchUp:

- Habanero Enhanced Geothermal System (zipped, 2.5MB)
- Deep Drill Rig (zipped, 2.7MB)
- 50 MW Power Plant (zipped, 4.7MB)