Geothermal energy is one of the most promising sources of clean, reliable, and renewable power for the 21st century. It harnesses the natural heat of the earth to generate electricity, without emitting any greenhouse gases or air pollutants. Geothermal power plants can operate 24/7, unlike solar and wind farms that depend on weather conditions and time of day. However, geothermal energy has been limited by the availability and accessibility of suitable sites, where hot rocks are close enough to the surface and permeable enough to allow water to circulate through them.
That’s where Fervo Energy comes in. Fervo Energy is a Houston-based startup that is developing next-generation geothermal projects using innovative technologies from the oil and gas industry. Fervo Energy combines horizontal drilling, distributed fiber optic sensing, and advanced stimulation techniques to create enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) that can tap into previously inaccessible geothermal resources. Fervo Energy’s EGS projects can produce more power per well, access hotter and deeper rocks, and control the flow of water through the reservoirs.
Fervo Energy’s vision is to deliver 24/7 carbon-free energy to millions of homes and businesses across the US and beyond. The company has secured several project sites in Nevada, California, and Idaho, where it plans to deploy its EGS technology and connect to the existing power grid. Fervo Energy has also partnered with leading research institutions, such as Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University, to conduct field experiments and validate its technology.
One of Fervo Energy’s most notable achievements is demonstrating that its EGS wells can be used like a giant underground battery, capable of storing and releasing energy on demand. In January 2023, Fervo Energy conducted an experiment at its demonstration site in northern Nevada, where it pumped water into a horizontal well thousands of feet underground and held it there for several hours. The water heated up from the surrounding rocks, creating pressure that flexed the rock itself. When Fervo Energy released the valve, the water surged back to the surface, carrying more heat and power than before. The experiment showed that Fervo Energy can ramp up and down its electricity output as needed, complementing other intermittent renewable sources like solar and wind.
Fervo Energy’s EGS technology has the potential to transform the geothermal industry and accelerate the clean energy transition. According to a study by the US Department of Energy, EGS could provide more than 100 gigawatts of geothermal capacity in the US by 2050, enough to power more than 30 million homes. Fervo Energy estimates that its EGS projects can achieve levelized costs of electricity (LCOE) below $50 per megawatt-hour, making them competitive with fossil fuels and other renewables. Fervo Energy also claims that its EGS technology is safe and environmentally friendly, as it uses non-toxic fluids, minimizes water consumption, and avoids induced seismicity.
Fervo Energy is one of the most exciting and innovative players in the geothermal space today. The company is backed by prominent investors, such as Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Chevron Technology Ventures, MIT’s The Engine, and Lowercarbon Capital. Fervo Energy has also received grants from the US Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission. Fervo Energy aims to start commercial operations by 2025 and scale up its EGS projects across the US and beyond.