According to Halliburton, the pump will offer an “efficient, safe, and agile solution that streamlines geothermal operations and enhances overall performance.” Photo via halliburton.com

Houston-based Halliburton has introduced a new technology that is designed specifically for geothermal energy applications.

The Summit ESP GeoESP is an advanced submersible borehole and surface pump technology GeoESP lifting pumps, which address challenges related to the transport of fluids to the surface through electric submersible pumps (ESP).

According to a news release from Halliburton, the pump will offer an “efficient, safe, and agile solution that streamlines geothermal operations and enhances overall performance.”

The inlet design minimizes power consumption, protects the pump against solids, and tackles scale formation. GeoESP lifting pumps can withstand extreme conditions with the ability to operate at temperatures up to 220°C (428°F) and can resist scale, corrosion, and abrasion.

GeoESP lifting pumps also use standard pump dimensions customized to suit various geothermal well conditions. With that, Halliburton will also offer a digital approach to geothermal well management with the Intelevat data science-driven platform to empower operators with real-time diagnostics and visualizations of “smart” field data. Halliburton states the system will improve well operations, increase production, extend system run life,reduce energy consumption, and minimize shutdowns.

“With increased global focus on low carbon energy sources, we are using our many decades of geothermal production expertise to help our customers maximize safety and improve efficiency,” Vice President of Artificial Lift Greg Schneider says in the release. “GeoESP lifting pumps build upon our current system to minimize power usage and help push the boundaries of what is possible with more complex well designs.”

Recently, more Houston-based companies have invested in geothermal technologies. GA Drilling and ZeroGeo Energy, a Swiss company specializing in renewable energy, announced a 12-megawatt Hot Dry Rock Geothermal Power Plant (Project THERMO), which is the first of several geothermal power and geothermal energy storage projects in Europe.

Additionally, Fervo Energy is exploring the potential for a geothermal energy system at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada. Sage Geosystems is working on an exploratory geothermal project for the Army’s Fort Bliss post in Texas. The Bliss project is the third U.S. Department of Defense geothermal initiative in the Lone Star State.

The Department of Energy announced two major initiatives that will reach the Gulf of Texas and Louisiana in U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm's address at CERAWeek by S&P Global in March. The Department of Energy’s latest Pathways to Commercial Liftoff report are initiatives established to provide investors with information of how specific energy technologies commercialize and what challenges they each have to overcome as they scale.

"Geothermal has such enormous potential,” she previously said during her address at CERAWEEK. “If we can capture the 'heat beneath our feet,' it can be the clean, reliable, base-load scalable power for everybody from industries to households."

Here are five things to know from CERAWeek this year. Photo courtesy of CERAWeek

Hot rocks, AI, and more — 5 themes and takeaways from CERAWeek 2024 in Houston

things to know

The 2024 edition of CERAWeek by S&P Global wrapped up last Friday in Houston, and a handful of themes emerged as topical and disruptive amid the energy transition.

Here are five takeaways from the conference, according to EnergyCapital reporting.

Funding the energy transition continues to be a challenge.

Photo courtesy of CERAWeek

The biggest obstacle to the energy transition is — and might always be — funding it. A panel at Agora on Thursday, March 21, moderated by Barbara Burger set out to discuss the role of venture capital amid the future of energy.

Daniel Goldman, managing partner at Clean Energy Ventures, said that the first plants for these new, revolutionary technologies are going to be more expensive than its subsequent plants.

"But you have to built it," Goldman says. "'First of a kind' can be very different from the end plant, because you need to manage risk. ... But those first plants are going to be quite costly, and you're going to have to recognize that as an investor."

Microsoft and Breakthrough Ventures Founder Bill Gates would address this in his talk later that day, pointing out that traditional infrastructure investors are used to knowing what a plant would cost before its built. But in clean tech, outside of solar and wind, there's too much unknown to give the estimation those investors are looking for.

"Nothing's at the maturity level that you can do that," Gates says.

The DOE's role of de-risking green tech.

Photo courtesy of CERAWeek

The United States Department of Energy had a significant presence at CERAWeek, with Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm making two major announcements on Monday, March 18, the first day of the conference. One of the announcements was the DOE's latest Pathways to Commercial Liftoff report, which are initiatives established to provide investors with information of how specific energy technologies commercialize and what challenges they each have to overcome as they scale.

"We develop these Liftoff Reports through a combination of modeling and hundreds and hundreds of interviews with people across the whole investment lifecycle—from early-stage capital to commercial banks and institutional investors," Granholm says in her address, announcing geothermal energy as the subject of the ninth report.

Intended to "create a common fact base and a tool for ongoing dialogue with the private sector on the pathways to commercial liftoff," according to the DOE, these reports can be instrumental for enterprises in the field.

A panel at Agora on Thursday, March 21, featuring geothermal energy innovators discussed the impact of the report. Tim Latimer, CEO and founder of Houston-based Fervo Energy, says the report included details from his company's work.

To Latimer, the report showcases geothermal energy's ability to compete from a cost perspective.

"I think geothermal is already winning that cost discussion," Latimer says. "You're talking about $45 per megawatt hour unsubsidized cost for round-the-clock, 24/7 carbon-free energy. I think that's an achievable ambition the DOE set out, and I think it's an unbeatable value proposition.

Hot topic: Geothermal energy.

Photo courtesy of CERAWeek

Geothermal energy was discussed throughout the week following Granholm's address, in part because of its expected cost efficiency, but also because it's a type of energy that should provide a smooth transition from traditional oil and gas.

John Redfern, CEO of Eavor Technologies, global geothermal technology company headquartered in Canada, says on the geothermal panel that the geothermal industry can build off existing infrastructure.

"Most of it is building blocks that we're recycling from the oil industry — resources, people, technologies," Redfern says. "So, it's more about implementing rather than inventing some new, novel product."

Latimer agrees, adding that Fervo "is fully in the deployment phase."

"The breakthrough needed to make geothermal ready for primetime have already happened," Latimer says.

AI is everywhere — especially the energy transition.

Photo courtesy of CERAWeek

The topic of artificial intelligence was everywhere, so much that by Thursday, panelists joked about every discussion including at least one mention of the technology.

Gates was one speaker who addresses the subject, which isn't all too surprising, since Microsoft owns a portion of OpenAI, which created ChatGPT. One thing left to be known is how directly AI will affect the energy transition — and on what timeline.

AI's current applications are within white collar activities, Gates explains, citing writing a regulatory permit or looking at evidence in a lawsuit. He explains that current AI capabilities could continually grow or remain stagnant for a while, he isn't sure.

"The thing that’s daunting is we don’t know how quickly it will improve," he adds.

Gates didn't comment on energy specific AI applications but noted that AI has advanced far past robotics, which would target blue collar roles.

Big tech sees green.

Photo courtesy of CERAWeek

And speaking of AI, big tech companies have been making moves to lower carbon footprints, and that was made clear by the activations at CERAWeek. Microsoft and Amazon each had designated houses at the conference, alongside Oxy, Chevron, Aramco, and other traditional energy players.

At Microsoft, Houston-based Amperon, which recently announced a partnership with the tech company, presented and pitched their company. The Microsoft and Amazon houses showcased each company's low-carbon technologies.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm made two big announcements at her CERAWeek address. Photo via Jennifer Granholm/X

DOE announces geothermal initiative, community-focused pilot at Houston energy conference

keynote address

The Department of Energy announced two major initiatives at U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm's address earlier this week at CERAWeek by S&P Global.

The first announcement Granholm revealed on Monday, March 18, at her keynote address was the DOE's latest Pathways to Commercial Liftoff report, which are initiatives established to provide investors with information of how specific energy technologies commercialize and what challenges they each have to overcome as they scale.

"We develop these Liftoff Reports through a combination of modeling and hundreds and hundreds of interviews with people across the whole investment lifecycle—from early-stage capital to commercial banks and institutional investors," Granholm says in her address.

The DOE has released eight already, and the ninth — and Granholm's favorite, she says — is on geothermal energy.

"Geothermal has such enormous potential. If we can capture the 'heat beneath our feet,' it can be the clean, reliable, base-load scalable power for everybody from industries to households," she says.

Geothermal development requires similar skills and infrastructure to traditional oil and gas, meaning the transition should be smooth, she explains, adding that the market is huge for geothermal.

"At scale, this market is significant: We're talking about at least—at least—a $250 billion investment opportunity to meet the goal that we have of 90 gigawatts of capacity by 2050," she remarks.

Granholm's address shifted into acknowledging the negative impact on communities the energy industry's history is paved with. She emphasizes how each of the Biden Administration's laws passed — like the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — implemented requirements and incentives with communities in mind.

The administration's next initiative, and Granholm's second big announcement, is "to empower communities to build their energy future."

Regional Energy Democracy Initiative, or REDI, as Granholm describes, will "bring together companies, and community groups, and academic institutions, and philanthropy to weave equity and justice into DOE-funded clean energy projects."

The inaugural pilot will be in the Gulf South across Texas and Louisiana. She says the DOE plans to award over $8 billion to regional carbon reduction and clean energy infrastructure projects.

"These structures will provide capacity building, technical assistance to help communities match their most pressing needs with the biggest opportunities…to design and to implement Community Benefits Plans," Granholm says, "in short, really to have a say in how the historic clean energy investments in their backyards are going to benefit their people."

Granholm also noted on the progress of the clean energy sector, including how clean energy investment is three times what it was in 2018 and that in 2024, wind and solar energy in the U.S. is expected to outpace coal generation for the first time.

All this progress, Granholm explains, in light of global events and global energy supply disruption

"But our work together really has to extend beyond crisis management," she says. "Because the sooner that we acknowledge this transition for what it is—an undeniable, inevitable, and necessary realignment of the world’s energy system—the sooner we can capitalize on this incredible opportunity."

CeraPhi Energy acquired the business of Third Energy Limited, a former fracking company. Photo via ceraphi.com

Geothermal co. with Houston office acquires former fracking biz

m&a moves

A geothermal company with Houston ties has made a strategic acquisition.

CeraPhi Energy acquired the business of Third Energy Limited, which is a former fracking company, with plans to repurpose the existing wells into clean geothermal energy centers. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition is set to include subsidiaries like Third Energy Trading Limited, Wolfland Renewables Limited, Wolfland Utilities Limited, Third Energy UK Gas Limited, and 50 percent holding in West Heslerton Renewables Limited.

The assets are located in North Yorkshire U.K. and include eight well sites consisting of 12 former gas wells in a suspended state, 22.4 km of 6-inch and 16.6 km of 3-inch subterranean pipelines and a further 22.4 km of buried fiber optic comms lines.

CeraPhi, which has a Houston office in Greentown Labs, completed a commercial demonstration of its CeraPhiWell system in 2023 using the Third Energy KMA site.

The company's strategy aims to “de-risk the scaling and commercialisation of large-scale heat networks using boreholes down to a depth of 2km, reducing the space required for deployment of large-scale systems and increasing the extraction of thermal energy available for network connections,” according to its website.

“By using the inexhaustible resource beneath our feet using closed-loop technology we can access this energy anywhere with zero environmental risk, requiring no hydraulic fracturing, no use of water and providing enough energy within the next 15 years to solve our energy crisis indefinitely,” says CEO Karl Farrow in a news release.

Houston-based Sage Geosystems announced the first close of $17 million round led by Chesapeake Energy Corp. Photo via sagegeosystems.com

Chesapeake Energy backs Houston geothermal tech co. in $17M series A

fresh funding

A Houston geothermal startup has announced the close of its series A round of funding.

Houston-based Sage Geosystems announced the first close of $17 million round led by Chesapeake Energy Corp. The proceeds aim to fund its first commercial geopressured geothermal system facility, which will be built in Texas in Q4 of 2024. According to the company, the facility will be the first of its kind.

The venture is joined by technology investor Arch Meredith, Helium-3 Ventures and will include support from existing investors Virya, LLC, Nabors Industries Ltd., and Ignis Energy Inc.

“The first close of our Series A funding and our commercial facility are significant milestones in our mission to make geopressured geothermal system technologies a reality,” Cindy Taff, CEO of Sage Geosystems, says in a news release. “The success of our GGS technologies is not only critical to Sage Geosystems becoming post-revenue, but it is an essential step in accelerating the development of this proprietary geothermal baseload approach. This progress would not be possible without the ongoing support from our existing investors, and we look forward to continuing this work with our new investors.”

The 3-megawatt commercial facility will be called EarthStore and will use Sage’s technology that harvests energy from pressurized water from underground. The facility will be able to store energy — for short and long periods of time — and can be paired with intermittent renewable energy sources like wind and solar. It will also be able to provide baseload, dispatchable power, and inertia to the electric grid.

In 2023, Sage Geosystems debuted the EarthStore system in a full-scale commercial pilot project in Texas. The pilot produced 200 kilowatt for more than 18 hours, 1 megawatt for 30 minutes, and generated electricity with Pelton turbines. The system had a water loss of less than 2 percent and a round-trip efficiency (RTE) of 70-75.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

Things are heating up in Utah for Fervo Energy. Photo via fervoenergy.com

Houston company breaks ground on 'world's largest' geothermal project with next-generation tech

coming soon

Houston-based cleantech startup Fervo Energy has broken ground on what it's describing as the "world’s largest next-gen geothermal project."

Fervo says the a 400-milliwatt geothermal energy project in Cape Station, Utah, will start delivering carbon-free power to the grid in 2026, with full-scale production beginning in 2028.

The project, in southwest Utah, is about 240 miles southwest of Salt Lake City and about 240 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Cape Station is adjacent to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE) and near the Blundell geothermal power plant.

The company says Cape Station will generate about 6,600 construction jobs and 160 full-time jobs.

“Beaver County, Utah, is the perfect place to deploy our next-generation geothermal technology,” Tim Latimer, co-founder and CEO of Fervo, says in a news release. “The warmth and hospitality we have experienced from the communities of Milford and Beaver have allowed us to embark on a clean energy journey none of us could have imagined just a few years ago.”

In February, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management gave its blessing to the project, allowing Fervo to undertake exploration activities at the site.

“Geothermal innovations like those pioneered by Fervo will play a critical role in extending Utah’s energy leadership for generations to come,” says Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony.

Since being founded in 2017, Fervo has raised more than $180 million in funding. Its highest-profile investors are billionaires Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Bill Gates. They’re backing Fervo through Breakthrough Energy Ventures, whose managing director sits on Fervo’s board of directors.

Other investors include the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), DCVC, Devon Energy, Liberty Energy, Helmerich & Payne, Macquarie, the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, Impact Science Ventures, and Prelude Ventures.

Fervo aims to generate more than one gigawatt of geothermal energy by 2030. On average, one gigawatt of power can provide electricity for 750,000 homes. Two coal-fired power plants can generate roughly the same amount of electricity.

Earlier this year, Fervo announced results of a test at Nevada’s Project Red site, which will supply power to Google data centers in the Las Vegas area. Fervo says the 30-day well test established Project Red as the “most productive enhanced geothermal system in history,” the company says. The test generated 3.5 megawatts of electricity.

In 2021, Fervo and Google signed the world’s first corporate agreement to produce geothermal power. Under the deal, Fervo will generate five megawatts of geothermal energy for Google through the Nevada project, which is set to go online later this year.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

4 Houston energy execs sound off on future workforce, collaboration, and more at OTC

overheard

In addition to the massive exhibit floor, networking, and panels, the 2024 Offshore Technology Conference hosts thoughtful fireside chats with energy leaders throughout the ongoing conference taking place in Houston this week.

Four energy leaders from Houston took the stage to discuss what their companies are doing within the energy transition. Take a look at what topics each of the conversations tackled.

Chris Powers, vice president of CCUS at Chevron New Energies, on energy evolution and collaboration

Chris Powers introduced Chevron New Energies, an organization within Chevron that launched in 2021, to the crowd at OTC, describing the entity's focus points as CCUS, hydrogen, offsets and emerging technology, and renewable fuels — specifically things Chevron believes it has the competitive advantage.

One of the things Powers made clear in his fireside chat is that it's not going to be one, two, or even three technologies to significantly move the energy transition along, "it's going to take all the solutions to meet all the growing energy needs," he said.

And, he continued, this current energy transition the world is in isn't exactly new.

"We've been evolving our energy supply since the dawn of man," he said. "Our view is that the world has always been in an energy evolution."

"Hydrocarbons will continue to play a huge role in the years to come, and anyone who has a different view on that I think isn't being pragmatic," he continued.

Chevron has played a role in the clean energy market for decades, Powers said, pointing out Chevron Technology Ventures, which launched in the 1990s.

"No one can do this alone," he said, pointing specifically to the ongoing Bayou Bend joint venture that Chevron is working on with Equinor and TotalEnergies. "We have to bring together the right partners and the right skill sets."

Celine Gerson, group director, Americas, and president at Fugro USA, on the importance of data

Celine Gerson set the scene for Fugro, a geo data and surveying company that diversified its business beginning in 2015 to account for the energy transition. From traditional oil and gas to renewables, "it starts with the geo data," she said during her chat. She said big projects can't map out their construction without it, and then, when it comes to maintaining the equipment, the geo data is equally important.

Another message Gerson wanted to convey is that the skill sets from traditional offshore services translate to renewables. Fugro's employee base has evolved significantly over the past few years, and Gerson said that 50 percent of the workforce was hired over the past five years and 85 percent of the leadership has changed in the past seven.

Agility is what the industry needs, Celine Gerson said, adding that the "industry need to move fast and, in order to move fast, we need to look at things differently.

Attilio Pisoni, CTO of oilfield services and equipment at Baker Hughes, on the future workforce

In addition to the world making changes toward sustainability, the energy industry is seeing a workforce evolution as well, Attilio Pisoni said during his fireside chat, adding that inspiring a workforce is key to retention and encouraging innovation.

"We have a challenge in attracting young people," Pisoni said. "To be successful, you have to have a purpose."

That purpose? Combating climate change. And that, Pisoni said, needs to be able to be quantified. "As a society over all, we need to have a standard of measurement and accuracy in reporting," he said.

To future engineers, Pisoni emphasized the importance of learning outside your specific niche.

"Having seen where the world is now, whatever you study, have a concept and understanding of the system as a whole," he said.

Erik Oswald, vice president of advocacy and policy development at ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions, on transferable skills from upstream

When he looks at renewables and new energy, Erik Oswald said he sees a significant similarity for the talent and skill sets required in upstream oil and gas.

"A lot of the same skills are coming into focus" within the energy transition," Oswald said, specifying CCS and upstream.

Even in light of the transferrable workforce, the industry faces needs to grow its workforce in a significant way to keep up with demand — and keeping in mind the younger generations coming onto the scene.

"We're talking about recreating the entire oil and gas industry," Oswald said on preparing the workforce for the future of the energy industry. "We have to do it, it's not an option."

Houston co. starts work on 9 orphan wells in Gulf of Mexico

temporary abandonment

A Houston-based company that develops, produces, and decommissions mature assets in a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable manner and begun work on the temporary abandonment of nine orphan wells.

Promethean Energy has announced the beginning of the project on the wells on behalf of the Department of Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, or BSEE. The temporary abandonment of the nine wells, which are located in the Matagorda Island lease area in the Gulf of Mexico, is the first stage of full decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructure.

"We are very proud to have been able to start work and contribute to this project of strategic national importance commissioned by BSEE," Promethean's SVP Decommissioning Steve Louis says in a news release.

The company was awarded a five-year Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract "to address the most immediate and urgent needs representing safety and environmental hazards" of the wells which no prior owner survives, per the release.

Promethean has conducted its own inspection of the platforms using drone-based laser scan technology in order to digitalize the structures and evaluate the equipment to plan safe boarding and procedures.

The next steps of decommissioning the wells will be to repair the platforms and wellhead equipment, followed by well diagnostics testing and the well decommissioning itself.

LYB makes deal to bring new plastics recycling hub to German town

guten tag

Houston-based chemical company LyondellBasell has signed a land lease agreement for a new integrated plastic waste recycling hub by an existing industrial park in Knapsack, Germany.

The agreement is with YNCORIS, a German industrial service provider. The hub will combine advanced sorting and recycling operations to address the plastic waste challenge and the company hopes it will grow the circular economy.

The first phase of the project will see the construction of an advanced sorting facility, which will process mixed plastic waste that can produce feedstock for mechanical and advanced recycling, since this mixed plastic waste is not recycled and usually sent to incineration for energy recovery. The hub's initial advanced sorting facility expects to start operations in the first quarter of 2026. The large facility will cover an area equivalent to 20 soccer fields.

"The industrial park in Knapsack is the ideal location for our integrated hub as is it close to our world-scale facilities in Wesseling and will allow us to develop additional technologies for the recycling of plastic waste," Yvonne van der Laan, LyondellBasell's executive vice president of circular and low carbon solutions, says in a news release. "The integration of various technologies will allow us to build scale and offer our customers a wide range of products from recycled and renewable resources."

In April, LyondellBasell also secured 208 megawatts of renewable energy capacity from a solar park in Germany. Under the 12-year deal, LyondellBasell aim s to purchase about 210 gigawatt-hours of solar power each year from Germany-based Encavis Asset Management.

By 2030, LyondellBasell hopes to produce and market at least 2 million metric tons of recycled and renewable‑based polymers annually.