Taking measurements for the European HITI project (Iceland, 2007). © BRGM

Developing geothermal energy in all its forms

BRGM is working on geothermal energy in every form, for geothermal heat pumps, heating networks and power production. The aim is to promote this form of renewable energy.

BRGM is working on different types of geothermal energy to help organise and develop the geothermal energy sector in France.

Geothermal heat pumps for individual and collective housing and the tertiary sector

BRGM is working to develop geothermal heat pumps to supply heat, air conditioning and hot water in new and renovated housing and tertiary sector buildings.

One result of its activities has been the creation, at its Orleans site, of a national experimental platform for studies of different types of underground heat exchangers for geothermal heat pumps to produce and store heat and cold.

More about BRGM's experimental platform for geothermal applications

Direct use of geothermal heat for district heating networks

BRGM is also investigating ways of using geothermal heat to supply district heating networks.

BRGM pioneered this technique in the 1970s and 1980s, contributing to demonstrations of the reliability and cost-effectiveness of “low-enthalpy” geothermal energy.  Today, BRGM is leading the field in operational development. 

BRGM provides support for project owners looking to develop geothermal district heating networks. It is also investigating new potential geothermal resources, means for exploiting them and possibilities for inter-seasonal heat storage.

More about renewed geothermal development in the Paris region

High enthalpy geothermal applications for power production

BRGM is also involved in geothermal power production, in France’s overseas volcanic islands and internationally, where it is conducting research and expert studies to support the sector’s development. The aim is to improve knowledge on the resource and to develop models, operational methods and impact management.

New generation geothermal systems (SGS)

For over 20 years, BRGM has been investigating deep geothermal applications using SGS technology (Stimulated Geothermal Systems) at Soultz-sous-Forêts (Alsace).

In the autumn of 2010, the scientific pilot plant at Soultz-sous-Forêts went into the power production phase. The aim is to demonstrate the long-term feasibility of this site, the only one of its kind in the world. 

More information about the Soultz-sous-Forêts scientific pilot

Extracting supercritical fluids

Until recently, heat extraction from supercritical (T ≥ 374°C, P ≥ 218 bar) geothermal reservoirs was not considered feasible, but technological advances are now making it possible to drill into these reservoirs to produce at least ten times as much energy as with current conventional high-enthalpy systems. These are the aims of the international Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP), which is operating at depths of over 5 km in the Krafla and Reykjanes geothermal fields.

So far, the two boreholes at Reykjanes and Krafla have not yet achieved these aims. A new borehole at Reykjanes will soon be reaching completion, raising hopes that it will become possible to develop this extraction technology in all favourable zones across the world. The IDDP was supported by the European HITI project (HIgh Temperature Instruments for supercritical geothermal reservoir characterization and exploitation), conducted from 2007 to 2010, to which the BRGM contributed. 

More information about the European HITI project

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