Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Geothermal Country Notes
There are only low-enthalpy geothermal resources in metropolitan France; high-enthalpy geothermal resources are found in France's overseas departments.
The resources are found in two major sedimentary basins: the Paris Basin and the Aquitaine Basin in the southwest. Other areas (Alsace and Limagne) have geothermal potential but it cannot be so readily utilised.
Although the first French geothermal district heating plant was constructed in 1969 in the Paris region, the main development of geothermal energy began following the oil crises of the 1970s. Development continued throughout the 1980s, culminating in nearly 100 exploration wells being brought into operation. However, the 1990s saw a diminution of interest in geothermal energy and approximately one-third of the plants were closed. The installed capacity is mainly used for space heating (80%+) but also greenhouse heating, fish farming and bathing and swimming.
For a considerable number of years France's low-enthalpy resources have been utilised by heat pump installations but the 2004 Energy Law together with support from EDF (French Electricity Board) and ADEME (French Agency for Environment and Energy Management) has given greater impetus to the development, particularly in the Paris area. It has been estimated that by 2010 some 40 000 heat pumps per year will have been installed in single-family houses.
Since the 1980s the French authorities have supported research into the potential of HDR. Work began at Soultz-sous-Forêts (northeastern France) in 1987 and based on the success of tests and drilling to a depth of 3 900 m (1987-1997), the next phase (1998-2001) was planned. During this period the drilling was extended to 5 000 m and further tests were conducted. Long-term circulation testing continued during Phase I (2001-2004) and during Phase II (2005-2008) it is expected that a 1.5 MWe power plant will be installed followed by the planning and installation of a 6 MWe plant.
An Arrêté for the long-term investment in electricity generation was passed on the 7th of July 2006. As far as geothermal energy is concerned the law includes a target for an additional 90 MWe capacity by 2010. By end-2015, the target is for a total of 200 MWe to have been installed.