Tantalizing Geothermal Solving Energy Need

Todd Moses
June 25, 2024

A California utility is backing the most significant new geothermal power development in the U.S.

Inputs that matter: This project is expected to produce 400 megawatts of clean electricity from the Earth’s heat.

  • Southern California Edison will purchase the electricity from Fervo Energy, a Houston-based geothermal company.
  • Fervo is drilling up to 125 wells in southwest Utah.
  • Cape Station, about 200 miles south of Salt Lake City, is expected to deliver electricity to California as early as 2026.

The opportunity: The boost could help bring down the cost of a new generation of geothermal energy, said Wilson Ricks, an energy systems researcher at Princeton University.

  • New geothermal companies are adapting drilling technology and oil and gas industry practices to create reservoirs from hot rock.
  • That unlocks the potential for geothermal energy in many more places.
  • "Geothermal energy represents a significant opportunity for the energy transition, providing clean, baseload renewable power," said Irlan Amir, Vice President of Renewables and Energy Efficiency at SLB.

Zoom in: The United States is one of the world leaders in using the Earth’s heat to make electricity, but geothermal still accounts for less than half a percent of the nation’s total large-scale electricity generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

  • Meanwhile, researchers have found a significant source of geothermal energy underneath the U.S.-Mexico border along the Rio Grande, which could lead to promising clean energy development in the rural region.
  • "There’s a thin, 10- to 15-mile-wide region that runs parallel or along the Rio Grande that has very high heat by at least by most standards, and even in the interior part of the county, which is probably two-thirds of the county," Ken Wisian, head of the research team, told NewsNation.

Between the lines: Fervo is pioneering horizontal drilling in geothermal reservoirs.

  • In 2021, it signed the world’s first corporate agreement with Google to develop new geothermal power and drilled three wells in Nevada.

Follow the money: EnBW has announced that LevertonHELM and EnBW have extracted battery-grade lithium from geothermal water. Using proprietary techniques, the German-British team produced lithium carbonate with a purity of >99.5 percent.

  • After their successful collaboration, EnBW and LevertonHELM have agreed to continue developing the technology.
  • Their shared objective is to advance the sustainable production of battery-grade lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide and develop local resources for electromobility and energy storage.

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Read More

  1. https://www.yahoo.com/news/big-boost-climate-solution-electricity-110101186.html
  2. https://www.kxan.com/news/significant-energy-source-found-under-us-mexico-border/
  3. https://interestingengineering.com/innovation/battery-grade-lithium-from-geothermal-water
  4. https://www.thinkgeoenergy.com/slb-ormat-announce-partnership-to-deliver-integrated-geothermal-projects/