FervoFlex: Long duration in-reservoir energy storage and load-following, dispatchable geothermal generation

Default ARPA-E Project Image


Program:
OPEN 2021
Award:
$4,500,000
Location:
Berkeley,
California
Status:
ACTIVE
Project Term:
08/22/2022 - 08/21/2024

Critical Need:

Widespread deployment of wind and solar energy resources will be required to reach deep levels of decarbonization of the U.S. electricity system, however, their variability can impact grid reliability. Installing sufficient levels of battery storage to offset the variability may cause significant cost burden to electricity users. As an always-on, 24x7 clean energy resource, geothermal energy is a reliable and cost-effective resource that is able to generate zero-carbon electricity in the most challenging hours of the year to decarbonize. Nearly all U.S. geothermal is under long-term, energy-only contracts that incentivize baseload operations. Market shifts indicate that development of clean, firm power sources is a compelling commercial opportunity and an imperative for meeting the country’s clean energy goals, and improving the dispatchability of geothermal would increase its value for grid systems and energy users. Nationwide, there is the potential to install 120,000 MW of new geothermal by 2050.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Fervo Energy has developed proprietary geothermal technology—FervoFlex™—capable of delivering in-reservoir energy storage and dispatchable generation attributes. At the same time, the team will develop a fiber optics-based diagnostic platform to monitor and optimize dynamic subsurface processes that currently pose major barriers to flexibly operating geothermal facilities. Fervo’s horizontal well design connects subsurface wells with a set of hydraulically conductive fractures surrounded by impermeable rock. These fractures act as flow pathways, providing contact areas with the geothermal reservoir to enable sustained heat recovery, and the low-permeability rock prevents fluid leak-off. Charging and discharging cycles are performed by controlling the injection and production well flow rates and pressures to deliver flexible generation profiles in response to grid demands and time-shift energy at high round-trip efficiencies. The FervoFlex™ technology effectively enables Fervo to operate their assets to achieve multi-day energy storage attributes in addition to the traditional benefits of clean, firm geothermal power.

Potential Impact:

Firm, zero-carbon, dispatchable resources are key to unlocking a fully decarbonized electricity sector.

Security:

Geothermal energy is reliable, flexible, and requires no fuel inputs to maintain operations. It will increase the resilience and reliability of the electric grid.

Environment:

When coupled with organic Rankine cycle generators, geothermal energy is a clean energy resource with zero emissions or pollutants that requires minimal land use.

Economy:

Making geothermal flexible would realize a $300+ billion market opportunity.

Contact

ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Isik Kizilyalli
Project Contact:
Dr. Jack Norbeck
Press and General Inquiries Email:
ARPA-E-Comms@hq.doe.gov
Project Contact Email:
jack@fervoenergy.com

Partners

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Related Projects


Release Date:
02/11/2021