Alphabet spin-off slashes geothermal installation costs

A new geothermal heating and cooling company promises to drastically cut the costs of geothermal installations, making the clean energy affordable to all. Developed by engineers at Google’s parent company Alphabet, the company has already raised USD 2 million in funding.

Buildings in the US account for 39 per cent of all carbon emissions, mostly from using fossil fuels for heating and cooling. But while home geothermal systems would be a good alternative – especially as they can offer homeowners lower and steadier monthly energy costs –the costs of installing a geothermal system are prohibitively high and require large, up-front installation fees. The installation process itself also tends to discourage consumer adoption as it is often messy and intrusive and is spread out over a number of days.

“So we decided to try to design a better drill that could reduce the time, mess and hassle of installing these pipes, which could in turn reduce the final cost of a system to homeowners,” wrote Kathy Hannun on the Google X blog.

Hannun is the CEO of the new Alphabet spin-off Dandelion. Its engineers spent two years developing the new technology in Alphabet’s ‘moonshot’ accelerator X.

After months of testing, the engineers came up with a design for a fast, slender drill that can drill one or two deep holes just a few centimetres wide. Compared to typical installation rigs, the drill produces less waste, takes up less space when operated, and leaves a typical backyard relatively undisturbed. It is also fast: Dandelion can install all ground loops in less than a day instead of the more typical three or four days.

According to a Dandelion press release, its solution will cost consumers around half of what geothermal installations have cost to date and be less expensive than fuel oil or propane heating.

Dandelion recently completed an initial round of seed funding, raising USD 2 million, and is now signing up its first customers in the state of New York. It even offers a financing programme that allows homeowners to install a Dandelion system for no money down while locking into low, predictable payments for heating and cooling.

 

Image credit: Dandelion (screenshot)

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