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Sunday, 05/18/2008 6:56:40 AM

Sunday, May 18, 2008 6:56:40 AM

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Google and Ormat discussing geothermal energy projects

By Guy Rolnik and Yoram Gabison

Ormat is one of the companies Google is talking to about alternative energy, co-founder Sergey Brin told TheMarker in an interview over the weekend.

Brin, 34, was in Israel for President Shimon Peres' presidential conference "Facing Tomorrow," and visited Google's Israeli offices as well.

Brin, who called Ormat an incredible company, said there were a lot of interesting Israeli companies that worked in renewable and alternative energy, as well as electric cars.

He refused to say if Google was on the verge of closing any deals to purchase Israeli companies, but did say the conditions were very good for Google to buy Israeli firms in the next year.

Senior Google executives met with their counterparts from Ormat at two alternative energy conferences, including a presentation on geothermal energy. Larry Page, the other co-founder of Google, even visited an Ormat geothermal plant in Desert Peak, Nevada.

Ormat is considered the world leader in geothermal energy.

The relations between the two firms started after Google announced its strategic RE
The goal of the initiative is to develop electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from coal.

Google's program initially will focus on advanced solar thermal power, wind power technologies, enhanced geothermal systems and other potential breakthrough technologies.

Page said, "Our goal is to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal. We are optimistic this can be done in years, not decades."

One gigawatt can power a city the size of San Francisco.

Google operates in the alternative energy field through its philanthropic arm, Google's headquarters has solar panels that generate 1.6 megawatts.

Ormat chairman Lucien Bronicki said in response that the meetings with Google are being held on a professional basis in order to advance geothermal technology. The firms are working to advance legislation for advanced geothermal technology development budgets from the U.S. government.

In February, Ormat announced a test of what is know as Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) technology, to be done in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy.

The plan is to increase the output of one of Ormat's geothermal wells with the new technology by turning marginal wells into profitable ones.

Brin also praised Google Israel's contributions to the parent company, mentioning applications such as Google Trends and Google Suggest, among dozens of others built in Israel.

As to local sales, he refused to give numbers, but did say they were going very well, and that Internet advertising in Israel works amazingly well.

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