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Former oil and gas workers make stunning pivot with cutting-edge clean-tech startup: 'Our team is thrilled'

"[It] can strengthen our grid, support our businesses, create jobs, and help our communities thrive."

"[It] can strengthen our grid, support our businesses, create jobs, and help our communities thrive."

Photo Credit: iStock

Geothermal power is heating up the renewable energy sector as the world transitions to cleaner energy sources, and some former oil and gas industry workers are leading the charge. 

Bedrock Energy, an Austin-based geothermal startup, unveiled its first project last month at a building in the Penn Field office campus, per the Austin American-Statesman

Bedrock's 17-person team, most of whom pivoted from the petroleum industry, began the project late last year after securing $8.5 million in seed capital to launch its novel drilling technologies, as Canary Media reported.

Normally, supplying a 30,000-square-foot commercial building with geothermal energy would require drilling at least 30 holes 300 feet into the ground, as Joselyn Lai, the startup's co-founder and CEO, told the news outlet. 

However, Lai said that because of limited space near the urban office campus, the team drilled 11 holes 800 feet deep in an adjacent parking lot, which produced the same amount of heating and cooling in far less space. 

Bedrock's cutting-edge technology saves building owners money and time on geothermal installations, which is crucial to deploying this clean energy at scale since geothermal systems typically have high upfront costs.

According to the company's website, its high-tech subsurface modeling software and autonomous drilling tools improve accuracy and allow for "up to 5 times faster borehole construction." In a news release, Bedrock said that building owners and investors should see a return on their investment in less than five years. 

"We now have user prototypes to show that geothermal can be more space-efficient, can be low-risk, and can be overall faster to install," Lai told Canary Media, speaking on the Austin project. ​"And that's what we think it will take to scale" geothermal energy.

As installation costs continue to drop, geothermal energy could provide a nearly inexhaustible source of clean power and help reverse the dangerous overheating of our planet, which is causing more extreme weather, disease outbreaks, and threatening biodiversity across the globe.

Geothermal heat pumps are the most efficient pollution-free heating and cooling solution, reducing annual energy and maintenance costs by over 50% compared to air-source heat pumps and other HVAC systems, per Bedrock.

Numerous startups are tapping into the Earth's limitless heat energy, including Canada-based Eavor — which is creating its first commercial-sized facility in Bavaria — Sage Geosystems, and Quaise Energy

And just as with Bedrock, former oil employees took their knowledge of geosciences and drilling to Sage, helping to usher in a new era of sustainable energy.

"Our team is thrilled to bring something truly special to Texas with our first geothermal project. This installation demonstrates how the energy beneath our feet offers not only comfort but also savings, reliability, and innovation. Geothermal can strengthen our grid, support our businesses, create jobs, and help our communities thrive," Lai told EnergyTech

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