Improved geothermal systems, Project Red leverages horizontal drilling

A technological breakthrough in new generation geothermal

Fervo Energy has made it. Project Red, its first commercial pilot plant built in Northern Nevada, gave excellent operational results setting a new record for improved geothermal systems. The announcement comes from the same company that explains how the well test carried out in the last 30 days has reached a flow rate of 63 liters per second at high temperature. Value that allows to reach a power of 3.5 MW. The secret of success? The particular drilling system adopted by the company.

Improved geothermal systems, how they work

Improved geothermal systems or EGS plants, to use the acronym, generate electricity without the need for natural convective hydrothermal resources. The technology is able to exploit the potential of hot underground rocks even when there is not enough natural permeability or fluids present. In detail, advanced geothermal energy aims to improve or create resources through a variety of stimulation methods, including “hydraulic billing”. Then it operates a vertical water injection hole on one side of the “improved” area and a steam recovery hole on the other.

Fervo’s EGS technology

It is at this level that the novelty studied by Fervo fits. The company uses horizontal drilling techniques to create long horizontal channels through the rock. Then he injects the pressurized fluid to fracture it and increase permeability. A promising approach? According to the first test results, yes. Fervo is the first company to successfully drill a pair of horizontal wells for commercial geothermal production, reaching side lengths of 990 meters and a temperature of 191 °C. The company also implemented a seismic mitigation protocol following best practices established by the US Department of Energy. The data collected during this pilot project will allow rapid advancement in geothermal distribution, with a new pair of horizontal wells to double the power.

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Geothermal systems improved, also like Google

By applying drilling technology from the oil and gas industry, we have proven that we can produce carbon-free energy resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in new regions around the world,” said Tim Latimer, CEO and co-founder of Fervo Energy. “The incredible results that we share today are the product of many years of dedicated work and commitment by Fervo employees and industry partners, especially Google”. The search engine giant has been working with Fevo since 2021 to help develop a new generation of improved geothermal systems.

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