Geothermal energy is pure perfection for heating and cooling homes in climates which are very hot or very cold because the ground stays around 50 degrees Fahrenheit which means, if you can access this area, you can inexpensively heat or cool a home or building. It is better than solar because it isn’t god-awful ugly – yes, we know Elon Musk may one day make solar pretty. It’s better than wind because it is constant.
The problem with the technology is in the northeast, you can get estimates of $60,000 or more to install such a system.
Its ironic, there is virtually unlimited heating and cooling under our feet but we just can’t get to it affordably.
Enter Google-X and the Alphabet spin-off, Dandelion, they are going to start installing geothermal in New York state to start and they say they have found a way to inexpensively and quickly dig the small holes needed to reach about 1,000 feet.
Some of the fastest-growing businesses have been based on arbitrage – many people in the IP communications space saw this for themselves and before that, the international call-back market. Mobile phones helped arbitrage away the need for a camera and flashlight among other devices – and we see how fast that market grew.
We’re just spit-balling here but if Google can get the price of an install down to $20,000 and the average homeowner can save $3,000 a year, the payback is under seven years.
Is this a feasible number? Well, Massachusetts heating oil users spend about $2,000/year on heat, let’s assume they spend about $1,500 on electricity for A/C they would need to save most of these amounts to make the numbers work. BTW, Americans spend around $22 billion a year on air conditioning, wow! Here is how to calculate your spend.
But, for new homes, the numbers are a lot easier to wrap your head around because you will hopefully need to spend less on auxiliary heating and cooling systems. If Dandelion is not overly-optimistic, geothermal could become a big producer of heat and cooling worldwide in the not-too-distant-future.