Google.org Invests in Innovation and Alternative Energy
In 2004, when Google.org hit the philanthopy stage, I believed that evenutally it would take over the world of philanthropy, much like Google has owned the world of Internet search. I hadn't heard much from the new kid on the block recently, but apparently that's no indication that the "hybrid philanthropy," isn't hard at work doing what it does. Google.org states that it:
"...uses a range of approaches to help advance solutions within our five initiatives. We operate in a traditional manner by supporting our partners’ work with targeted grants. But we can also invest in for-profit endeavors, such as efforts by companies to develop breakthrough renewable energy technologies. Our structure also allows us to lobby for policies that support our philanthropic goals. Additionally, we can tap Google’s innovative technology and, most importantly, its inspired workforce. We’ve already begun to donate and invest Google.org’s funds, and we expect to continue to do so in the future."
The most recent of those donations is in the form of a $10.25 million investment in a breakthrough energy technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). According to Google.org's website, "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."
In the press release announcing the grant, Dan Reicher, Director of Climate and Energy Initiatives for Google.org, stated that , "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."
Larry Brilliant, Google.org's executive director, noted that , "Innovation is the path to massive quantities of cleaner, cheaper energy. The people we're funding today have a real shot at lowering the cost of EGS, and bringing us closer to our goal of Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal."
Identifiying alternative energy sources is a critical step in reducing dependence on foreign oil and combating the crisis of global warming. That the folks at Google.org are on this issue actually gives hope that there may yet be a solution we can all look to.