France has a long history of utilizing geothermal energy for heating and electricity generation. The country has been investing in installed geothermal heating plants to harness the heat stored within the Earth’s crust.
Blessed with several geothermal resources, France has been using this energy source primarily for direct use in district heating and spas, and there is potential for electricity generation.
To illustrate how central geothermal energy has been in France, the French Geological Survey (BRGM) has published an insightful infographic on some major locations that are currently being heated with geothermal energy, including Radio France, Aéroports de Paris, Rennes and soon the Olympic Games in Paris.
1. Radio France
Radio France, a public service broadcaster in France operating a network of radio stations, has been heated and cooled by deep geothermal energy since the day of its inauguration on 14 December 1963. It was the first building to be heated by geothermal energy in France. The energy to heat and cool the building was channeled from the Albien aquifer.
This heating system has given the French radio company an advantage. According to Jean-Luc Hees, radio journalist, relying on geothermal energy was key to avoid being affected by the economic consequences of the various oil crises that have occurred since the 1970s. “It is partly thanks to this heating system that Radio France has been able to keep its budgets under control,” added Hees.
2. Paris–Orly Airport
Currently, geothermal energy is used to produce 35% of the heating requirements at the Orly Airport, the equivalent to the consumption needs of 5,000 homes. It is used to heat part of the buildings and to supply hot water. By 2024, a total of 50% of the heating required at Orly Airport will be supplied by geothermal energy. The airport also uses the waste heat produced by the waste-energy recovery plant in Rungis. With the addition of heat pumps, the share of geothermal energy will be increased and boost the airport’s energy potential.
Geothermal energy is currently used to heat and supply hot water to homes situated above the underground stations in Rennes. The energy generated is produced by the underground itself following a business venture between the city and the construction engineering company Egis.
In 2021, an original system was installed directly in the floor slabs and vertical walls of four Rennes underground stations in order to produce heat. This innovative project is managed by the Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM). The entire surface of the stations is now used as a heat exchanger. This system should have the capacity to cover a very large proportion of the heating needs of the buildings above the stations. Ultimately, some 112 homes will benefit from geothermal heating.
4. Olympic Games 2024
Geothermal energy will power the athletes’ village for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Located in St Ouen and St Denis, the surrounding urban development area (ZAC) and the Pleyel Tower will receive 68% of their power from geothermal energy.
The energy will be used for heating and cooling and will be supplied and managed by the Paris Urban Heating Company. The water used will be drawn from three aquifers, in a system combining near-surface geothermal energy and thermo-fridge pumps.