Different types of below-ground heat exchangers for geothermal heat pumps at the BRGM's experimental geothermal energy platform (Orléans, 2009). © BRGM - Girelle Prod

The BRGM's geothermal platform: 10 years of innovation and collaborative work

07.23.2019
On 24 June in Orléans, the French geological survey, BRGM, celebrated 10 years of operation of its experimentation platform during a day of talks and visits organised for businesses and local government.

Mikaël Philippe, manager of the geothermal platform, shows business and local authority visitors around the site and laboratory. © BRGM

Mikaël Philippe, manager of the geothermal platform, shows business and local authority visitors around the site and laboratory. © BRGM

The geothermal platform is used to test underground closed-loop heat exchangers of every type in real conditions in order to optimise their energy and environmental performance. It has thus encouraged ten years of innovation in the geothermal sector through fourteen collaborative projects with businesses and local government agencies. Some of the results have been published in scientific journals. This technological showcase is the only one of its kind in France and has attracted over 3200 visitors since its inauguration.

The platform is currently testing horizontal, vertical and tube-type exchangers, the three most representative types of heat exchangers on the market.

Solutions for the energy transition

Shallow geothermal systems use the temperatures found at 1 to 200 metres below the surface to heat or cool buildings. Despite its many advantages, the technology has been slow to develop in France.

The geothermal platform has therefore been renewed and modernised.  On 24 June, the BRGM inaugurated a new technological heat engineering system that can simulate exchanges of heat between the surface and energy systems in a building (heat pumps, solar panels, etc.). The research offered has been expanded in response to the new challenges of the energy transition.  Under a new project, the BRGM is using the platform to investigate possibilities for coupling a geothermal system with underground heat storage.  We are also assessing and improving the efficiency of shallow geothermal energy systems for cooling buildings.

As a surface and subsurface specialist, the BRGM is working to support the organisation of the geothermal sector in France and to improve the visibility and performance of this form of renewable energy.

Geothermal energy development with the BRGM and Orléans Métropole

In December 2018, Orléans Métropole and the BRGM signed an agreement for geothermal energy development in the Orléans region. This aims to achieve the goals set out in the region's Climate-Air-Energy plan (PCAET), Horizon 2030-2050 programme and heat network masterplan (SDRC) for the connection of 65 000 additional housing units to geothermal heat networks. The BRGM is responsible for three key tasks in geothermal energy development: mapping potential for shallow geothermal energy across mainland France, producing feedback on current geothermal operations and launching communication activities geared to public awareness and operational training for contractors and professionals. Through these missions, the BRGM will be developing innovative methodologies to help local government agencies opt for the best geothermal solutions. 

BRGM - 3 avenue Claude-Guillemin - BP 36009 45060 Orléans Cedex 2 - France Tel.: +33 (0)2 38 64 34 34