Geothermal energy in France could well become an effective solution thanks to Veligeo, the first simplified joint stock company for renewable energy in the Paris region. A geothermal power plant will be commissioned in the fall of 2021 in Vélizy-Villacoublay. The aim is to provide 66% of the city’s residents with heating and hot water from renewable energy sources, thanks to an innovative process that is unique in Europe. This one consists in recover a heat source at 65°C thanks to the multi-drains drilling technology.
Geothermal energy in France: the innovative and energy-efficient multi-drain
66% geothermal energy for heating and hot water for Véliziens
Geothermal energy is one of the alternatives to fossil fuels for heat recovery. In Vélizy-Villacoublay (Yvelines), the local authorities (20%) and ENGIE Solutions (80%) have joined forces to create the first Simplified Joint Stock Company for Renewable Energies in the Île-de-France region applied to geothermal energy.
With a contract signed for 28 years, the objective is to provide heat and hot water to 66% thanks to geothermal energy. And this, for all the inhabitants of the city. This is equivalent to avoiding the emission of 22,801 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. That is the emission of more than 15,000 vehicles. And everything is done to ensure that the future plant optimizes its production. It will even consist of exchangers to recover heat from wells and heat pumps.
The geothermal power plant is scheduled for completion this fall. Veligeo hopes to have it up and running by the end of 2021.
16 MW of heating capacity thanks to multi-drain drilling
The drilling works concerned two geothermal wells with a total length of 2400m, in the Dogger aquifer. Composed of three drains, the boreholes cross three times the producing levels. This maximizes the volume of the tank.
This multi-drain technique favors the recovery of water at 65°C, providing a heating power of more than 16 MW. And this, by developing the potential of geothermal aquifer fabrics.
In addition, thanks to the latest drilling technologies developed by Schlumberger, the plant would see its original production capacity doubled. Up to 400 m3/hour.
At the same time, work to connect the boiler room to the Vélizy-Villacoublay heating network will be completed this summer. Named Velidis, it will cover a total of 19 km.
France’s first “all-electric” construction site
This geothermal energy also preserves the sound comfort of the inhabitants thanks to the electrification of the drilling apparatus (the “rig”) of the company SMP. This is the first “all-electric” project in the IDF. As a result, noise pollution is drastically reduced, with 550 tons of CO2 avoided.
The multi-drain drilling associated with low-energy geothermal energy was thus used for the first time in Europe.
Investing in an energy of the future
EUR 25 million in investments by ADEME
This is why this promising project is welcomed by many actors of the French energy transition. Companies see it as a way to reach a large audience. And this, on the technological, ecological and economic level.
They are, among others, accompanied by the CITEPH (Concertation pour l’Innovation Technologique dans les Domaines des Energies), a program of private financing of R&D and collaborative innovation. The latter had selected the project for the Open Innovation 2020 program.
Energy not subject to markets
Olivier Peyret, President of Schlumberger France, spoke about the company’s aspirations with this project:
“Schlumberger’s ambition is to play a leading role in the energy transition by leveraging more than 90 years of expertise in advanced technologies associated with energy exploration and production […] this project demonstrates the importance of working as part of an ecosystem where everyone contributes their expertise for the benefit of a successful energy transition.”
Finally, if geothermal installations have a cost, the heat source is free. Its price is therefore not subject to market fluctuations. Moreover, it does not require any specific transport or storage.
Not only would investing in these plants today allow players to participate in the French energy transition. But when compared to the fossil fuel market, they may well make a lot of money in the future.