In 2015, Fervo Co-Founder Tim Latimer left his career as a Texas drilling engineer in the oil and gas industry. He moved to California, studied at Stanford, and met Jack Norbeck — together they founded Fervo Energy with the goal of advancing technology and innovations in geothermal energy. In 2018, they came to Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab) as fellows in the Cyclotron Road division Cyclotron Road hosts a program in partnership with the nonprofit Activate that supports leading entrepreneurial scientists as they advance technology projects with the potential for global impact.

As a drilling engineer, I started to learn about climate change and I wanted to help,” Latimer said. “Jack and I saw an opportunity for new technology and innovations in geothermal and we decided to go that direction,” he said.

Latimer wanted to find a cleaner way to generate electricity, but as a Texan, he didn’t want to turn his back on the gas and oil industry’s workforce community. Providing pathways for the gas and oil workforce to find new ways to apply their skills was important to him. He was excited to see that geothermal energy could provide one such pathway.

At Cyclotron Road, Latimer and Norbeck were fellows for two years, learning skills that are needed in the high-tech entrepreneurial world and collaborating with Berkeley Lab’s scientists to increase the productivity and lower the cost of geothermal power generation. They worked with lab scientists to advance technology for high-temp, high-pressure materials that can be used in the extreme environments of geothermal development. They also worked to find more sophisticated fiber-optic sensing technology to make measurements in the subsurface, thousands of feet below the earth. Today Fervo has 15 employees with offices in Houston and Berkeley.

With $28 million in new funding led by Capricorn Investment Group, Latimer says that Fervo is set to expand to the next level.

“We have had so much support from our collaborators in the Cyclotron Road community, but to get from lab to field, to get new megawatt hours on the grid, you need strong collaborations with the private sector. This round of funding gets us on that journey,” he said.