Houston Energy Startup Achieves Geothermal Breakthrough


Published July 18, 2023
HETI | Greater Houston Partnership

Houston-based startup Fervo Energy has made a significant breakthrough in geothermal technology, marking a major milestone for carbon-free energy sources.

The company announced it successfully completed a performance demonstration of its commercial pilot at the Project Red site in northern Nevada, showcasing the potential of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) on a large-scale commercial level.

During the full-scale, 30-day well test, Fervo, a member of the Greater Houston Partnership, generated 3.5 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to powering approximately 2,625 homes simultaneously. The successful pilot project is part of a collaboration between Fervo and Google, aiming to provide power to Google’s data centers and infrastructure in Nevada.

Geothermal power plants, known for their carbon-free operation and availability around the clock, play a crucial role in achieving a 100% carbon-free electric grid. Fervo’s enhanced geothermal system expands the range of sites suitable for geothermal energy extraction, fulfilling a long-standing goal of the renewable energy industry.

Tim Latimer, CEO and co-founder of Fervo, emphasized the significance of this achievement, stating that the technology has surpassed expectations and is a resource for today rather than the distant future. Geothermal energy has the potential to be a key player in decarbonizing the power grid, especially during periods when other renewable sources like wind and solar are unavailable.

“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,” Latimer said.

The test aligns with the findings of the Department of Energy’s Enhanced Geothermal Earthshot initiative, which aims to demonstrate the potential of geothermal energy to supply over 20% of U.S. power needs and complement wind and solar power in achieving a fully decarbonized grid, removing technological barriers and propels geothermal deployment ahead of schedule.

“This groundbreaking achievement by Fervo Energy not only solidifies Houston’s role as a leader in the energy transition but also propels the advancement of geothermal technology towards a more sustainable future,” said Jane Stricker, Executive Director of the Partnership’s Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI).

Fervo Energy aims to replicate its success at its southwest Utah site, currently under construction. With design improvements, the Utah site is expected to generate approximately 400 megawatts by 2028, enough to power around 300,000 homes simultaneously.

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