This rock-bending technology could revolutionize clean energy.


New technology that stores energy underground could make geothermal energy more cost-competitive with fossil fuels and traditional renewables — and help accelerate the transition to a clean energy future.

Geothermal energy; The Earth’s core is as hot as the Sun’s surface, and you don’t need to dig deep into the Earth’s crust to feel the effects of this heat—the temperature rises by 80F for every mile you travel underground.

This geothermal energy can generate clean electricity by using hydrothermal reservoirs – places underground.

Geothermal energy is cleaner than fossil fuels and more consistent than solar or wind power. It is also renewable – the amount of heat generated by the earth is unlimited.

Geothermal energy is cleaner than fossil fuels and more consistent than solar or wind power, which depends on the weather. It is also renewable – the amount of heat generated by the earth is unlimited. Another advantage is that it requires very little land compared to wind and solar.

Despite these advantages, geothermal energy provides only 0.4% of US electricity, and one of the reasons behind it is the need to build plants near hydrothermal reservoirs, which are rare and concentrated in volcanic areas.

Improved geothermal systems; In the year In the 1970s, researchers at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory developed and demonstrated a new way to harness the incredible geothermal energy of natural hydrothermal deposits.

It’s called an “enhanced geothermal system,” and it’s created by using drills and fracturing techniques to break up the hot, impervious rocks underground. Water can then be pumped into this artificial reservoir to create steam for electricity.

Applied geophysicist Will Pettit told Yale Climate Communications in 2020, “You can effectively put a power plant anywhere. All you have to do is dig deep and you will find fresh rock.

New technology can make geothermal energy competitive with fossil fuels and traditional renewables.

50 years later, only a handful of advanced geothermal systems generate electricity in the US, and while they still don’t operate at commercial rates, they’re getting close.

Now Houston-based startup Fervo Energy’s “FervoFlex” technology in development has the potential to make retrofitted geothermal systems significantly cheaper — and unlock geothermal power across the country.

How it works: Fervoflex begins by creating an artificial reservoir consisting of a network of small, interconnected channels in hot, impervious rock. Directing pressurized water into those channels smooths the rocks. Then the water can be stored in this condition for several days.

When electricity is needed the most – such as at night when solar power is unavailable – the pressure can be released and the mechanical energy of the aligned rocks helps turn the water into electricity.

In the year In 2020, Fervo asked researchers at Princeton’s ZERO Lab to test FervoFlex. Computer simulations made them confident that the technology would work, but they were unsure about the economics of the system.

“You can effectively put a power plant anywhere. All you have to do is dig deep and you’ll find hot rock.”

Will Pettit

The Princeton study, detailed in an article published in the journal Applied Energy, shows that the ability to store energy in Fervo’s man-made reservoir could significantly increase the cost of improved geothermal systems.

“The idea seemed simple and elegant to me,” said lead author Wilson Ricks: “You have this system, it has these natural properties, and maybe we can use them to make energy storage…

“It’s unequivocally proven to be more valuable in all contexts and a really big advantage,” he continued.

look forward – In February 2022, Fervo received a $4.5 million grant from the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to further develop its technology.

Most recently, it raised $138 million in venture capital funding through DCCC-led investment firm. That money will help him complete two pilot projects, including one at Google in Nevada, and begin evaluating projects in the U.S. and internationally.

“Fervo is the right company at the right time,” said Matt Trevithick, partner at DCVC. “The United States needs 200 GW of reliable clean energy to achieve a zero-carbon electric grid. Fervo is poised to make geothermal as important to our energy future as solar and wind.”

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