AltaRock Energy: Volcano Power

Source: Greg Lamm, TechFlash, January 14, 2012.

AltaRock Energy of Seattle is working with Google and the U.S. Department of Energy on a project to see if heat locked inside a volcano in Central Oregon can be tapped as a cheap, reliable energy source.

If successful, the $43 million project could vastly expand the use of geothermal energy and give a big boost to a nascent green energy industry.  It also could provide a cheap energy source for Google, Facebook, and other big tech companies that have come to Washington and Oregon to set up giant server farms for cloud computing data centers.

With tech and government funding, AltaRock Energy is working with Davenport Newberry Holdings LLC of Stamford, Conn., on the geothermal power development project on the flanks of Newberry Volcano in the Deschutes National Forest, 20 miles south of Bend, Ore.

According to USA Today, the project includes a plan to pump 24 million gallons of water into the side of the dormant volcano this summer to see if the water can be recovered fast enough and hot enough to make it a reliable energy source.

“We know the heat is there,” Susan Petty, president of AltaRock, told USA Today. “The big issue is can we circulate enough water through the system to make it economic.”