New geothermal drilling technologies faster and more affordable

New geothermal drilling technologies faster and more affordable

February 26, 2024 0 By Bret Williams

Even compared to two years ago, advancements have made substantial improvements

Fervo Energy has announced that it is making substantial progress in geothermal drilling technology at its southern Utah facility Cape Station.

The renewable energy production process could become faster and more widely adopted.

Fervo explained in a recent announcement at the Stanford Geothermal Workshop that it has been able to achieve horizontal well geothermal drilling in only 21 days. That represents a reduction of 70 percent in the amount of time that was needed when it drilled its 2022 horizontal well in Nevada. That well was its first and was a component of a Google-backed strategy called Project Red.

Less time means less cost

According to Fervo, by reducing the amount of time needed, the result has been that costs have also dropped. The most recent well cost $4.8 million, compared to the $9.4 million price tag associated with the 2022 well in Nevada.

Affordable, practical, renewable energy

The new geothermal drilling record is part of an overall effort Fervo has been making to achieve affordable, practical, renewable energy using enhanced geothermal system (EGS) processes. In 2023, Project Red successfully passed its 30-day well test and achieved the production of 3.4 megawatts (MW) of power. That amount of energy is approximately the equivalent used by 500 homes in the United States.

Geothermal Drilling - Image of geothermal site - renewable energy

Last November, Google announced that the renewable power plant had achieved full operation and was connected to the Nevada grid used by some of the tech giant’s data servers.

Fervo is working on a larger geothermal drilling project in Utah

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The company has announced that the bigger Utah project is slated to become operational in 2026.  It will reach its full non-stop power capacity of 400 MW in 2028.  The wells being drilled in that location are more than 2,100 feet deeper than Project red and are notably hotter. Therefore, the faster drilling time will have the opportunity to produce even better results.

“We now have the best drilling technology from the petroleum drilling industry,” said Texas A&M University professor of engineering Fred Dupriest, who is also a former ExxonMobil Chief Drilling Engineer. “What encourages me now is that we’re starting to learn how to use it in ways that specifically maximize performance. Performance isn’t just what you use, but how you use it. We’re not just achieving technology transfer, but an impressive rate of knowledge transfer in how to use it.”

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