Google, Lex Luthor, Earthquakes!

AltaRock Energy drill siteby Dave Zornow

It’s the stuff from which Sci Fi is made. The Web Search-opoly, which has shook the bedrock of the advertising world, has invested in a company that can cause earthquakes. (Sort of. The investment is real, the earthquakes are a possibility)

What’s best is that Rule #6 of Google’s corporate philosophy is “you can make money without doing evil.” Larry Page and Sergey Brin, meet Lex Luthor and Dr. No.

It’s also about energy and using the heat of the earth to produce clean power without greenhouse gases or fragile geopolitical alliances. Google has invested $6.25 million in AltaRock Energy which plans to drill two miles below the surface to tap geothermal energy in a place about two hours north of San Francisco.

AltaRock hopes to use engineered geothermal systems to pump cold water below the surface to fracture rocks and create fissures. The water, heated under intense pressure, returns to the surface as steam used to turn electrical turbines.

However, the NYT did a little digging (I couldn’t resist) and found that a similar venture in Basel, Switzerland was shut down after it triggered man-made earthquakes which persisted for months after the drilling stopped. AltaRock says they aren’t sure that the Basel project caused the Swiss quakes although local officials in Switzerland are sure that they did.

Regarding geothermal energy, Google says we need “more aggressive government policies to help catch up to other nations, including expanded R&D funding, a national renewable portfolio standard, and reliable tax incentives.”

Here’s the pitch: Corporate greed vs. community need by do global gooders gone bad  at the cross roads of good intentions and the San Andreas fault. Wannabe script writers for History and Discovery Channels — are you listening?

Source: NYT, XConomy, GreenTechMedia, Earthetech

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