Geothermal Renaissance Gets a Boost in France

September 3, 2014 By Karen Henry

Paris-energy-manageGeothermal energy is going through a renaissance of sorts, Bloomberg reports. In the push to develop renewable energy, there is no question that sun and wind lead the way. However, governments around the globe are also looking into capturing underground heat.

France, which currently is one of the most dependent countries on nuclear energy, will become part of the renaissance, as Cofor and Schlumberger have begun drilling several geothermal wells in Villejuif, which is halfway between Eiffel Tower and the Orly airport in Paris.

The Paris region has the second largest concentration of low-energy geothermal installations in the world. Dozens of geothermal installations were built in the area around the 1980s but were plugged and shut down because of technical and financial issues. The European Union’s target for all member nations to get 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, coupled with France’s fracking ban, have breathed new life into the shuttered geothermal projects.

The $40 million plan calls for increasing France’s geothermal capacity to 80 MW by 2020, according to Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables (SER), the nation’s renewables industry group. France’s currently installed capacity of 16.5 MW represents between 3 and 6 percent of the nation’s total heat production.

Although geothermal drilling carries some of the same risks as fracking—such as increased potential for earthquakes—the wells at Villejuif will not be as deep and will not require fracking.

Photo of Paris via Shutterstock.

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