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Startup develops incredible way to harness hard-to-reach clean energy source: 'It's going to be really important'

The enhanced method creates an artificial reservoir below the ground.

The enhanced method creates an artificial reservoir below the ground.

Photo Credit: iStock

Utilizing geothermal sources for energy production is nothing new. In fact, a facility in Utah has been doing so for most of the last four decades, as Canary Media reported. 

However, the outlet also reported that startup company Fervo Energy has come up with a new way to make the most of the abundant heat under the Earth's surface to create sustainable power, and it has now broken ground on a project in western Utah. 

The "enhanced geothermal" method creates an artificial underground reservoir by drilling into rocks thousands of feet below our feet

These reservoirs are filled with water and other necessary fluids, which are then heated by the geothermal source to create steam that moves turbines, which create energy. 

The Cape Station development could upon completion become the world's largest geothermal station to use next-gen technologies, and Fervo expects it to generate 80 times more energy than its existing Nevada pilot site, which showed a possible 3.5 megawatts of generating capacity over a 30-day test run, Canary Media said. 

Speaking to the outlet, the CEO and founder of Fervo, Tim Latimer, indicated that he hopes the Nevada site proves that scaling up the production of power in this way is achievable and possible in a short timescale. 

"It represents quite a big step for geothermal, and it's going to be really important for energy development going forward," he said of the Cape Station facility. 

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States is a world leader in geothermal energy production, with facilities in New Mexico, Nevada, California, Idaho, Oregon, Hawai'i, and Utah. Around 17 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity was produced by this method in 2022. 

One of the benefits of geothermal energy as an alternative to other forms of clean energy is that it can create power all day, every day. Solar power is limited by the presence of the sun, while a lack of wind hinders the power created by turbines. 

However, the need to drill to access geothermal potential has been known to cause earthquakes, Canary Media reported, although efforts to minimize these occurrences are being investigated. The outlet noted that the U.S. Department of Energy has created a number of safety protocols.

Improved geothermal energy creation that is more efficient, less environmentally intrusive, and quicker to implement is a win for sustainable power and a boost in efforts to move away from coal, gas, and oil. 

Modeling from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory predicts around 90 gigawatts of power can be installed by 2050 in the United States, and the Fervo project in Utah will be a significant contributor to that possibility.

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