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Fervo heralds a revolution in geothermal power technology
Loz Blain

Fervo's "next-generation geothermal" technology has proven itself in testing, becoming the most productive enhanced geothermal plant in history. The company hopes its approach will radically expand access to clean energy, like shale did for oil.

There's a near-unlimited amount of clean energy under our feet, in the form of hot rocks. You can generate clean electricity 24/7 – not intermittently, like solar and wind – if you can get water down into that rock and back to the surface to drive steam turbines. A reliable source like this would make the clean energy transition much smoother. 

But as we've written many times before, there are only limited places where geothermal power currently makes economic sense – places like Iceland and New Zealand, for example, where the heat is close to the surface, easily accessible, and the site is close enough to a grid connection to make it worth exploiting. 

This, and the fact that some 40% of all geothermal wells don't end up working out, has put the brakes on hot rocks as a power source. According to IRENA, geothermal contributes about half of one percent of global renewable energy, and a vanishingly tiny slice of overall global energy production. 

One very exciting way around this has been proposed by Quaise, which plans to re-power old coal-fired stations by drilling deeper into the Earth's crust than ever before using technology from the nascent fusion industry. But this may take some time to come to fruition.

Fervo's solution is a bit more down-to-Earth, as it were, and draws on much more established, high-volume machinery and techniques from oil and gas production. Essentially, Fervo aims to do for geothermal what shale oil and fracking did for hydrocarbons, radically improving access to resources and unlocking energy where previously it was too expensive to get to. 

Traditional geothermal drills vertically into highly fractured, highly permeable rock



Loz has been one of our most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only New Atlas contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his acappella band Suade.

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