France publishes action plan to accelerate geothermal development
The Government of France has published a six-point action plan to accelerate the development of the country's shallow and deep geothermal facilities.
The French Government thru Minister for Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher has released a document entitled “Geothermal energy : an action plan to accelerate,” a national action plan that aims to make France a leader in geothermal energy with the ultimate goal of producing enough geothermal heat in 15 to 20 years to save 100 TWh/year of gas and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
The official document (in French) can be accessed via this link.
In France, heat represents around half of the final energy consumptions and is still mainly produced by fossil fuels. In 2021, renewable energies accounted for 24% gross of the final consumption of energy used for heating and cooling. Geothermal solutions represented only 1% of the final heat consumption, or around 6 TWh of renewable geothermal heat.
In this context, the Government of France has launched the action plan for the development of surface and deep geothermal energy in metropolitan France. The action plan will mobilize the Ecological Transition Agency (ADEME), the Geological and Mining Research Bureau (BRGM), the concerned professional federations, and State services at the national and regional levels.
The status of surface and deep geothermal in France
The report provides an overview of surface and deep geothermal installations in France while also setting goals for each sub-field.
In France, surface geothermal installations represents two-thirds of the heat produced by geothermal energy. Despite the legislative measures put in place in recent years, the industry is still struggling to take off with higher investment costs identified as one of the limitations. In this context, the multi-annual energy program has set a target of 4.6 TWh of final consumption of renewable heat from geothermal heat pump in 2023 and an increased goal of 5 to 7 TWh by 2028.
Deep geothermal energy accounts for 78 installations for urban heating network in operation as of the end of 2022 – 58 in Île-de-France, 15 in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, 3 in Occitanie in the Aquitane, 1 in Bas-Rhin, and 1 in Centre-Val de Loire in the Paris basin. The multi-annual energy program sets a target of 2.9 TWh of final consumption of heat from deep geothermal energy in 2023 and a goal of 4 to 5.2 TWh in 2028.
About 30 deep geothermal projects have been identified by the AFPG for 2030. The main challenge for deep geothermal is the identification of lesser-known or under-exploited deep aquifers that can host geothermal resources.
Six-point action plan
The action plan identifies six goals or strategies to achieve the overall objectives, three each for surface geothermal and deep geothermal.
- Strengthen surface geothermal drilling capacity to meet demand from the residential and tertiary sectors
- Increase the number of drillers trained in surface geothermal energy through vocational training; guarantee the quality of drilling by harmonizing requirements relating to water and geothermal drilling
- Refine the regulatory framework to encourage the development of surface geothermal projects
- Create a regional map of regulatory geothermal zones and provide regulatory adaptations for certain surface geothermal solutions such as underground heat storage and inclined geothermal probes
- Encourage the installation of geothermal heat pumps in the residential and tertiary sectors
- Enhance the visibility of qualified geothermal professionals and increase the number of geothermal projects in the residential sector by providing financial aid and other support schemes; continue to collect and analyze data relating to geothermal installations and communicate these through various media
- Identify and enhance under-exploited deep aquifers, conducive to the construction of geothermal doublets for heating networks
- Improve the knowledge of subsurface characteristics through analysis of existing data and the acquisition of new data in cities with high geothermal potential; redevelop the geothermal guarantee fund to cover a greater part of the geologic risk;
- Raise awareness and increase the skills of local actors, support project leaders in the deployment of geothermal solutions
- Designate at least one geothermal specialist for each of the thirteen administrative regions in metropolitanfro France; promote geothermal cooling as an alternative to air conditioners; promote the use of geothermal heating for agri-food starting with six pre-identified candidate farms
- Encourage new projects and encourage new financial arrangements in geothermal energy
- Promote new projects by opening a second call for projects in 2023 for the Heat Fund; explore the possibility of involving new financing entities (banks, public or private investment funds) for the pre-financing of geothermal investments