France: study highlights important role of geothermal energy

France: study highlights important role of geothermal energy Geothermal Plant at Soultz-sous-Forets, France (source: ThinkGeoEnergy, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 14 Feb 2017

A recent study highlights opportunities for the geothermal sector in France by tapping into the experience of its large and experienced oil and gas sector.

A recent study, carried out by state authorities and economic associations in France highlights the important role of geothermal energy in France. The study identified key elements of an intensified cooperation between the different exploration industries in France.

The exploration and use of the deep underground has a long tradition in France. In the extraction of oil and gas, the country is a truly global player. About 700 companies today have revenues of about EUR 36 billion per year, with around 66,000 employees.

But the impact of fracking, CO2 storage and geothermal energy is growing. Geothermal energy in particular becomes more and more important in the Energiewende (energy transition) for France. According to the 2015 legislation on the country’s energy transition, renewables are expected to represent about 40% of electricity in 2030 and about 32% of total energy use. In addition, geothermal energy is expected to support the goals of the overseas territories of France in Guadeloupe and Martinique and others to become energy independent.

Prospectives_Geothermal_FranceSmall but dynamic and innovative industry

France is one of the top 20 countries in terms of the use of geothermal energy for electricity generation and one of the top 10 when it comes to heat production from geothermal energy.

The industry is still relatively small, with a staff of about 1,320, and an annual turnover of EUR 177 million. A study conducted by the International Conference on Mutual Econometrics (PIPAME), a platform of various French offices, ministries and associations, sees though a large potential for geothermal energy – despite it still depending largely on governmental support today.

In its positive outlook, the study points to the numerous development impulses generated by the various players involved, which are based on the big players of the (fossil) exploration scene, as well as young innovative companies.

Synergies in the exploration industry accelerate the development of geothermal energy

The various industries that research and use the subsurface share many similarities, for example in the areas of technology and research. The study sees the increased use of these synergies as a key to the accelerated development of geothermal energy. A national momentum is already noticeable, but the co-operation is still expandable. In particular, a more intensive transfer of technology from the fossil industry would help geothermal energy, for example, in the modelling and monitoring of the subsurface.

Promising prospects at home and abroad

Overall, the study assesses the prospects of French geothermal energy as promising. Not only for domestic, increasingly renewable energy sources, but also for the export of technology and know-how: the experts estimate that France could reach 10 to 15% of the international geothermal energy market by 2030.

The report is downloadable here (in French)

Source: EE News