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Fervo Energy drilling results show rapid advancement of geothermal performance

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Exciting advancements in the geothermal industry have been unveiled at the Stanford Geothermal Workshop, where Fervo Energy shared groundbreaking early drilling results from its Cape Station project. These results have surpassed the Department of Energy’s expectations for enhanced geothermal systems, showcasing rapid progress and readiness for continued commercialization in the sector.

Fervo’s drilling campaign at Cape Station, a 400 MW project in southwest Utah, commenced in June 2023. Over the past six months, the company has achieved significant milestones by successfully drilling one vertical and six horizontal wells. The accelerated learning curve has led to remarkable reductions in drilling times from well to well, reflecting the industry’s evolution towards efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Notably, Fervo has demonstrated a consistent reduction in drilling times and costs, particularly in horizontal, high-temperature, deep granite drilling. Despite the challenging conditions at Cape Station, Fervo achieved its fastest well drilling time in just 21 days, marking a substantial 70 percent reduction compared to previous projects. This enhanced drilling efficiency has resulted in significant cost savings, with drilling costs per well at Cape decreasing from $9.4 million to $4.8 million.

Tim Latimer, CEO and Co-Founder of Fervo Energy, emphasized the company’s commitment to applying manufacturing principles to geothermal development, leading to a highly repeatable drilling process that drives continuous improvement and cost reductions. Fervo’s rapid progress aligns with an expected learning rate of 35 percent for drilling time improvement, setting the stage for further advancements in performance and cost optimization.

The industry has taken note of Fervo’s achievements, with experts likening the company’s drilling improvements to the early stages of the shale revolution. By leveraging modern oil and gas drilling equipment, including polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) drill bits and mud coolers, Fervo has exemplified the applicability of oil and gas technology to enhanced geothermal exploration.

As Fervo continues to push boundaries and redefine geothermal drilling practices, the collaboration between private sector innovation and pioneering research initiatives like DOE-sponsored Utah FORGE is propelling the industry towards a sustainable and efficient future. Fred Dupriest, a prominent figure in the field, commended Fervo’s ability to maximize drilling performance through technology transfer and knowledge exchange, underscoring the transformative impact of their approach to enhanced geothermal development.

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