Chevron Corp. and Baseload Capital have created a joint venture (JV) to develop geothermal energy projects in the U.S., starting in an area of Nevada known for its immense potential to generate heat energy from the earth.

The partnership follows other companies, including Baker Hughes, Chesapeake Energy Corp., Continental Resources and INPEX, that are pursuing the power source.

Chevron and Baseload see geothermal energy as a critical renewable energy option that also enables other lower carbon solutions. The two companies said Dec. 14 they will work together to find the best prospects for development and move geothermal technologies from pilot to commercial scale.

“It is time for the geothermal industry to take its place as an obvious part of the energy mix,” Baseload Capital CEO Alexander Helling said in a news release. “Geothermal should be the new normal, becoming as standard to the energy mix as GORE-TEX is for outdoor clothes. Right now, everything is in the industry’s favor to move from niche to mainstream. We have no time to waste and no excuse for not picking up the pace here and now.”

Geothermal energy captures heat from belowground using wells drilled up to several miles deep into reservoirs. Hot water or stream is brought to the surface for uses that include electricity generation, direct use or for heating and cooling.

Geothermal, which is available 24 hours a day, is also seen as a reliable source of clean energy.

According to the U.S. Energy Department, using geothermal for electricity produces only about one-sixth of the CO2 of a natural gas power plant.

Nevada’s Esmeralda County, which will be the site of the duo’s first project, has abundant geothermal resources. The state is home to about 25 geothermal plants, which together can theoretically generate up to 827 megawatts of power in an hour, according to Nevada’s minerals division.

The Weepah Hills, Nevada, area was selected as the first project site based on its geothermal readiness and Nevada’s established geothermal development, Chevron told Hart Energy. The company plans to drill new wells in the area in 2023 as it continues to evaluate emerging technologies.

When selecting a site, Chevron added, “geothermal resource capability is key, but there are multiple factors depending on the goals of the opportunity, which may vary from testing new locations for geothermal development, deploying technology as well as commercial.”

The Chevron New Energies and Baseload Capital JV seeks to leverage each company’s competencies in geothermal plus traditional oil and gas, particularly expertise in subsurface, wells, drilling and completions, Chevron said in a news release.

Baseload Capital’s portfolio of geothermal investments include Iceland, Japan, Taiwan and the U.S. It partnered with Chevron in 2021 to build a pilot project using waste heat from Chevron’s San Ardo oil and gas field in California. The project started operations in July 2022.

“We believe that to make the geothermal ecosystem a reality, we must take these important steps through collaboration and partnership,” said Barbara Harrison, vice president of offsets and emerging at Chevron New Energies.  The pilot with Baseload Capital “is a great start towards pursuing our lower carbon goals for the future.”

Other energy companies are pursuing similar projects.

On Dec. 8, Baker Hughes announced the formation of the Wells2Watts consortium, bringing together Chesapeake Energy Corp., Continental Resources and INPEX to explore technology to transform abandoned oil and gas wells into electrical power-generating geothermal wells.

The consortium’s attention will initially be centered on the use of closed-loop geothermal technology, Baker Hughes said in a news release. The consortium’s attention will initially be centered on the use of closed-loop geothermal technology, with its first project centering around a test well at Baker Hughes Energy Innovation Center in Oklahoma City.