Fervo Energy, a leading energy company, announces a major achievement in geothermal technology.
Following a successful 30-day well test at its northern Nevada site, the company reports a remarkable “flowrate of 63 liters per second at high temperature, enabling 3.5 megawatts of electric production.”
This test has set flow and power output records for an enhanced geothermal system (EGS) and was executed without any incidents.
Notably, a single megawatt can power approximately 750 homes simultaneously.
Fervo Energy is on track to connect its Project Red site to the grid later this year. The site will primarily provide power to Google data centers and other essential infrastructure in Nevada.
In 2021, Google and Fervo signed an agreement to develop an innovative “next-generation geothermal power project.”
Bloomberg reports that this marks the first time an energy company has successfully demonstrated the viability of a commercial-scale EGS.
The journey to this achievement has been long, with scientists striving to make EGS a reality since the 1970s.
To generate electricity from a natural geothermal system, requires a combination of heat, fluid, and rock permeability, as highlighted by Bloomberg.
While many areas possess the necessary levels of heat in the rock, they lack the required permeability for fluid flow.
EGS overcomes this challenge by creating artificial permeability through deep underground drilling and fluid injection to create fractures in the rock. This approach significantly expands the potential sites for geothermal power plants.
Fervo Energy asserts that it is the first company to have “successfully drilled a horizontal well pair for commercial geothermal production, achieving lateral lengths of 3,250 feet, reaching a temperature of 191°C, and demonstrating controlled flow through rigorous tracer testing.”
Geothermal power plants offer numerous advantages as they operate entirely carbon-free. Google aims to transition all its offices and data centers to carbon-free energy by 2030.
Moreover, geothermal energy plants can operate continuously, unlike solar and wind power, making them an attractive source of renewable energy.
However, Fervo CEO Tim Latimer highlights that cost reductions and regulatory obstacles currently hinder the broader availability of EGS.
Fervo Energy is now planning to replicate its success at a site in Utah. If the results are similar and design upgrades are successfully implemented to maximize output, the Utah site is projected to generate sufficient electricity to power 300,000 homes simultaneously, equivalent to approximately a quarter of all homes in Utah.
Michael Terrell, Google’s senior director for energy and climate, emphasizes the importance of finding new sources of firm, clean power to achieve their goal of operating on 24/7 carbon-free energy.
In a statement, he expresses excitement about the significant potential of Fervo’s geothermal technology to unlock a critical source of carbon-free energy at scale, applauding Fervo for reaching this significant technical milestone.