Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Fervo Energy Announces Technology Breakthrough in Next-Generation Geothermal

Well test results at Fervo Energy’s commercial pilot project confirm record production of 24/7 carbon-free enhanced geothermal energy

Fervo Energy (“Fervo”), the leader in next-generation geothermal technology, today announced that it has successfully completed the well test at its full-scale commercial pilot, Project Red, in northern Nevada. In conjunction with the announcement, Fervo is hosting research and industry partners for the inaugural Fervo Energy Technology Day tomorrow, July 19, in Houston to present findings from the project and explain their implications for accelerating the deployment of next-generation geothermal power.

The successful well test confirms the commercial viability of Fervo’s drilling technology and establishes Project Red as the most productive enhanced geothermal system in history. The 30-day well test, a standard for geothermal, achieved a flowrate of 63 liters per second at high temperature that enables 3.5 MW of electric production, setting new records for both flow and power output from an enhanced geothermal system.

Fervo is the first company to successfully drill a horizontal well pair for commercial geothermal production, achieving lateral lengths of 3,250 feet, reaching a temperature of 191 °C, and proving controlled flow through rigorous tracer testing. Fervo implemented an induced seismicity mitigation protocol following best practices established by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and completed the project without incident. Data collected through the course of this pilot will enable rapid advancement in geothermal deployment, with Fervo’s next horizontal well pair planned to achieve more than double the power output of the pilot design.

TAKE ADVENTAGE OF OIL AND GAS DRILLING TECHNOLOGY

“By applying drilling technology from the oil and gas industry, we have proven that we can produce 24/7 carbon-free energy resources in new geographies across the world. The incredible results we share today are the product of many years of dedicated work and commitment from Fervo employees and industry partners, especially Google,” said Tim Latimer, Fervo Energy CEO and Co-Founder.

A decade ago, Latimer was working in the oil and gas industry as a drilling engineer.

“I loved the work, but I was passionate about climate change. I saw all the tech advancement around me and realized that it could be used for geothermal energy,” Latimer said in a thread he posted on Twitter on 18th Jul. Developments in oil and gas drilling, like the development of the polycrystalline diamond cutter, “changed the game,” Latimer said.

“With dramatically lower drilling costs, it would now be possible to drill down to depth and then drill horizontally for enhanced geothermal, significantly increasing the productivity of the resource, and enabling development anywhere,” Latimer wrote on Twitter.

When Latimer first had the idea to use developments in oil and gas drilling to tap into geothermal energy, he faced a lot resistance. The one place he found an interested ear was at Stanford’s geothermal program, where he went to grad school and in 2017 co-wrote and published a paper on the topic. That paper was the foundation for Fervo Energy, which Latimer launched in 2017 with Jack Norbeck, also from Stanford’s geothermal program.

Fervo Energy co-founders, Jack Norbeck (left) and Tim Latimer

FERVO AND GOOGLE ARE ALLIANCE TO HEAD TO THE FUTURE

In 2021, Fervo and Google signed the world’s first corporate agreement to develop next-generation geothermal power. The goal of the partnership is to power Google’s Cloud region in Las Vegas with an “always-on,” carbon-free resource that will reduce the company’s hourly reliance on fossil fuels.

“Achieving our goal of operating on 24/7 carbon-free energy will require new sources of firm, clean power to complement variable renewables like wind and solar,” said Michael Terrell, Senior Director for Energy and Climate, Google.“We partnered with Fervo in 2021 because we see significant potential for their geothermal technology to unlock a critical source of 24/7 carbon-free energy at scale, and we are thrilled to see Fervo reach this important technical milestone.”

Fervo’s results from Project Red support the findings of the DOE Enhanced Geothermal Earthshot and show that geothermal energy could supply over 20% of U.S. power needs and compliment wind and solar to reach a fully decarbonized grid. Fervo’s drilling and well test results pave the way for the U.S. to meet this goal ahead of schedule; with Fervo’s breakthrough, no technological barriers to geothermal deployment remain.

Jesse Jenkins, Assistant Professor and leader of the Zero-carbon Energy systems Research and Optimization (ZERO) lab at Princeton University, said, “Power systems modeling confirms that geothermal can be a critical player in a fully decarbonized grid. Fervo’s successful commercial pilot takes next-generation geothermal technology from the realm of models into the real world and starts us on a path to unlock geothermal’s full potential.”

This summer, Fervo broke ground on its first greenfield development in southwest Utah, adjacent to the DOE’s Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE).

Revenue and learnings from Fervo’s Utah project will go toward the development of other projects in new geographies.

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