Green VC

News & resources for social entrepreneurs

Category: Google

Google.org Invests $10.25 Million in Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) Technology

Google.org

Google announced today that it is investing $10.25 million (via Google.org) in an energy technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS).  The specific investments are:

AltaRock Energy, Inc.
$6.25 million investment to develop innovative technologies to achieve significant cost reductions and improved performance in EGS projects.

Potter Drilling, Inc.
$4 million investment in two tranches, to develop new approaches to lower the cost and expand the range of deep hard rock drilling, a critical element to large-scale deployment of EGS.

Southern Methodist University Geothermal Lab
$489,521 grant to improve understanding of the size and distribution of geothermal energy resources and to update geothermal mapping of North America.

EGS expands the potential of geothermal energy by orders of magnitude. The traditional geothermal approach relies on finding naturally occurring pockets of steam and hot water. The EGS process, replicates these conditions by fracturing hot rock, circulating water through the system, and using the resulting steam to produce electricity in a conventional turbine. 

"EGS could be the ‘killer app’ of the energy world. It has the potential to deliver vast quantities of power 24/7 and be captured nearly anywhere on the planet. And it would be a perfect complement to intermittent sources like solar and wind," said Dan Reicher, Director of Climate and Energy Initiatives for Google.org.

The following video provides an overview of EGS:

In its funding announcement, Google cited an MIT report on EGS (The Future of Geothermal Energy) that estimated that just 2% of the heat below the continental United States between 3 and 10 kilometers (depths within the range of current drilling technology) is more than 2,500 times the country’s total annual energy use.

"EGS is critical to the clean electricity revolution we need to solve the climate crisis, but EGS hasn’t received the attention it merits. That’s why we’re pressing for expanded support from government and increased investment from the private sector," said Reicher, "We’re big believers in EGS and we’re looking for more opportunities."

Today’s announcement is part of Google’s Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal initiative.  This initiative, announced in November 2007, focuses on solar thermal power, advanced wind, EGS, and other potential breakthrough technologies.  An initial goal of this initiative (also known as "RE<C") is to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal, in years, not decades.

Aptera Motors Raises More Than $24 Million in Series C Funding

Aptera Motors

Aptera Motors, a Carlsbad, California-based company that is developing an ultra-efficient vehicle, announced on July 24th that it raised more than $24 million at the close of its series C round of financing.  The company said that the funds will be used to start initial production of its Aptera Typ-1 vehicle and for a new manufacturing facility located in Vista, California.  Aptera Motors’ investors now include Idealab, Esenjay Investments, The Simons Family, The Beall Family Trust, and Google, Inc.

"We’re excited that the tremendous demand that we’ve received from the thousands of individuals who have pre-ordered their Aptera Typ-1 has been matched with a strong endorsement from our investment partners," said Steve Fambro, founder and CEO of Aptera Motors. "The vehicle is exciting, the timing seems perfect and the market is eager to buy one of these first built units. These new funds will be instrumental as we pursue our goal of bringing the Typ-1 to market later this year."

"With energy prices and oil prices where they are, we feel dramatic increases in the efficiency of transportation, like the Typ-1, are greatly needed," said Bill Gross, chairman and CEO of Idealab. "The Aptera Typ-1 is designed to be the lowest energy way to transport two passengers safely from point A to point B. Clearly, our expectations for this first vehicle and this company are very high."

According to the company, the Aptera Typ-1 will be "the most efficient passenger vehicle in the world."  The first production models are scheduled for release in December 2008.  The all-electric version will achieve up to 120 miles per charge, and the hybrid version (which will be available 12 months after) will achieve nearly 300 MPG.  The following video, from the September 2007 Aptera launch party, provides additional information on Aptera Motors.

For more information:

Google.org Executive Director Dr. Larry Brilliant to Present at DFJ Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Program on May 14

On Wednesday, May 14, Dr. Larry Brilliant, Executive Director of Google.org, will be the speaker at the DFJ Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Program at Stanford University.  This program is also known as course Management Science & Engineering (MS&E) 472.   

The DFJ Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Program is a weekly lecture series during the academic year where entrepreneurial leaders share their insights with the Stanford community.  The program is provided by Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students (BASES) and the Stanford Technology Ventures Program and is sponsored by Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

This program is free and open to the public and will take place on the Stanford University campus in Skilling Auditorium from 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm.  This program will also be available via podcast and video.

For more information:

eSolar Receives $130 Million in Funding

eSolar

eSolar, an Idealab company based in Pasadena, CA that produces scalable solar thermal power plants, announced on Monday that it closed $130 million in funding from Idealab, Google.org, Oak Investment Partners, and other investors for the construction and deployment of its pre-fabricated power plants.  In January eSolar received $10 million from Google.org.

"eSolar’s primary business goal is nothing short of making solar electricity for less than the price of coal, without subsidies," said Bill Gross, eSolar Chairman and Founder of Idealab. "This is not only attainable, but will truly change the world."

eSolar’s distributed solar thermal plants are designed to address the complex issues involved in large or utility-scale power projects and are able to achieve economies of scale at 33 MW.  The modular design of these plants have a number of benefits, including requiring minimal land and yielding a low environmental footprint.

"The eSolar™ power plant is based on mass manufactured components, and designed for rapid construction, uniform modularity, and unlimited scalability," said Asif Ansari, CEO of eSolar. "Rather than over-engineering the solution, eSolar’s smart scalable solar architecture targets what we see as the four key business obstacles facing the sector: price, scalability, rapid deployment, and grid impact."

eSolar has secured land rights in the southwest United States to support the production and transmission of over 1 GW of power. eSolar will have a fully operational power plant later this year in southern California.

For more information:

Google.org Announces Philanthropy Focus Areas; Includes Climate Change

On Thursday, January 17 Google.org announced the five focus areas for its philanthrophic efforts for the next five to ten years.  These focus areas include ones that address the challenge of climate change.  This announcement also contained information on more than $25 million in new grants and investments that Google.org is making in these areas, including $10 million to eSolar, a company that specializes in solar thermal power.

Listed below are the five areas, along with a brief overview as described in the Google.org announcement, as well as selected overview videos:

Focus Area #1 – Accelerate the Commercialization of Plug-In Vehicles (RechargeIT)
RechargeIT is a Google.org initiative that aims to reduce CO2 emissions, cut oil use and stabilize the electrical grid by accelerating the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid technology. Google.org launched a $10 million request for investment proposals this Fall, and will invest amounts ranging from $500,000 to $2 million in selected for-profit companies whose innovative approach, team and technologieseSolar will enable widespread commercialization of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, electric vehicles and/or vehicle-to-grid solutions.

Focus Area #2 – Develop Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal (RE<C)
This cross-Google collaboration has set a goal of producing one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal, within years not decades. The initiative, known as RE<C, was launched in November 2007 and will focus initially on advanced solar thermal power, wind power technologies, enhanced geothermal systems and other potential breakthrough technologies.

[Editor’s note: The initial RE<C announcement was covered by Green VC in the post Google Invests in Renewable Energy.]

Focus Area #3 – Predict and Prevent
Google.org supports efforts to empower communities to predict and prevent events before they become local, regional, or global crises, by identifying "hot spots" and enabling a rapid response. Rapid ecological and social changes are increasing the risk of emerging threats, from infectious diseases to drought and other environmental disasters. Google.org is initially focused on Southeast Asia and tropical Africa. In Southeast Asia, a hot spot for SARS and potentially bird flu, Google.org is working with partners to strengthen early warning systems and build local capacities to prevent the next pandemic.

Focus Area #4 – Inform and Empower to Improve Public Services
Google.org works with partners to improve the flow of vital information to improve basic services for the poor in India and East Africa. In many countries in the developing world, essential public services are failing, especially for the poorest members of society. Google.org supports efforts to provide information to empower citizens and communities, providers, and policy makers to improve the delivery of essential public services such as education, health, water and sanitation.

Focus Area #5 – Fuel the Growth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
Google.org supports efforts to lower transaction costs to invest in SMEs, create opportunities to access larger financial markets and make investments in this sector. SMEs are critical for inclusive economic growth and job creation in the developing world, but lack the capital and tools necessary to succeed. Many micro-enterprises and most large businesses have access to capital through microfinance institutions, banks and capital markets, but SMEs remain extraordinarily underserved, creating a "missing middle." Google.org wants to help increase the flow of capital to "the missing middle" by tackling some of the root causes that prevent these firms from becoming profitable investment opportunities

A replay of a Google.org call discussing yesterday’s announcement is available through midnight Thursday, January 24th, 2008 by calling 888-203-1112 (US) or 719-457-0820 (outside the US). The confirmation code for the replay is 4699562.  For additional information on Google.org:

Google.org Executive Director Dr. Larry Brilliant Interviewed by MarketWatch

Today MarketWatch posted an interview conducted by Stacey Delo with Google.org Executive Director Dr. Larry Brilliant titled "The Triple-Bottom Line" in which he discusses the grantmaking and investment philosophy of Google.org and also provides advice for individuals who are seeking to make an impact with their own financial investments.  Running time is approximately four minutes.

Google Invests in Renewable Energy

On Tuesday, November 27 Google announced a renewable energy initiative to which it will be allocating significant resources.  A key part of this initiative is the creation of a renewable energy research and development (R&D) group it is calling "RE<C".  This mission of this group is to "develop electricity from renewable sources cheaper than electricity produced from coal." 

The initial objective of RE<C is to build one gigawatt (enough electricity for a city the size of San Francisco) of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal.  The initial technologies RE<C will be focusing on are advanced solar thermal power, wind power technologies, and enhanced geothermal systems.  Google is currently hiring to staff this new initiative.

To complement these efforts, Google.org will make strategic grants and investments in organizations working to produce renewable energy at a cost below that of coal-fired power plants.  They are already working with two companies — eSolar (solar thermal power) and Makani Power Inc. (high-altitude wind energy extraction). 

Google can be contacted at renewables@google.com regarding renewable energy investment, R&D or project opportunities.  Please note that Google states "Because of the expected volume, we will not be able to sign NDAs at this stage. If there is confidential information that you cannot include without an NDA, do not include it in your email."

Google stated that in 2008 it plans to spend "tens of millions on research and development and related investments in renewable energy."  In addition, as part of its capital planning process, Google also intends to invest "hundreds of millions of dollars in breakthrough renewable energy projects which generate positive returns."

For more information on this announcements and Google’s other "green" initiatives:

Media coverage on Tuesday’s announcement includes:

Page 2 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén