Thursday, April 18, 2024

Fervo Energy achieves a breakthrough in carbon-free geothermal tech

Geothermal startup Fervo Energy announced that it has successfully completed the well test at its full-scale commercial pilot, Project Red, in northern Nevada. The pilot project results confirm the record production of 24/7 carbon-free enhanced geothermal energy.

The successful 30-day well test, considered an industry standard for geothermal, also confirms the commercial viability of Fervo’s drilling technology and establishes Project Red as the most productive enhanced geothermal system in history.

Fervo’s full-scale commercial pilot is the first time a geothermal project has ever drilled a horizontal pair of bores. In the test, Fervo drilled down to 7,700 feet and then turned to drill another 3,250 feet horizontally. It achieved a flow rate of 63 liters per second at temperatures up to 191 °C (376 °F) that enables 3.5 MW of electric production. The company says the test results in new records for both flow and power output from an enhanced geothermal system.

Fervo implemented an induced seismicity mitigation protocol according to the best practices established by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and successfully completed the project. The data gathered from this pilot process will help enable rapid advancement in geothermal deployment, with Fervo’s next horizontal well pair planned to achieve more than twice the power output of the original design.

“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.

In 2021, Fervo signed the world’s first corporate agreement with Google to develop next-generation geothermal power. As part of the partnership, Google is developing artificial intelligence and machine learning systems to improve Fervo’s efficiency. 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 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. The company has just started construction on a 400-megawatt project that is expected to be operational by 2028, which would power approximately 300,000 homes.