France - Direct Uses




individual space heating



District heating



Greenhouse heating



fish farming



bathing and swimming



 geothermal heat pumps





Total thermal installed capacity in MWt


Direct use in TJ/year


Direct use in GWh/year


Capacity factor



Country Update: Geothermal energy has been used in the country for a variety of applications over a long period, especially since the two 1970s oil crises. Many geothermal direct-use applications have been commissioned since 1961, and most of the wells drilled in the early 1980s, especially in the Paris sedimentary basin and in Aquitaine. There has been renewed interest in direct-use applications since 2007 in the Paris basin. The development of ground-source heat pumps is a more recent effort, but is still weak; however, the market for heating office buildings and collective public housing is flourishing. The total number of geothermal heat pump units installed is estimate at 163,000 with an average size of 12.33 kW. The use of geothermal heat is expected to increase six-fold between 2006 and 2020, thanks to the use of ground-source heat pumps as well as geothermal district heating. The development of geothermal heat projects has been boosted by the implementation of a renewable heat fund. The new fund, created in 2009, aims at increasing the number of projects using renewable energy for industry, collective housing and commercial buildings, with about €1.2 billion allocated to cover all renewable energies for the 2009-2013 period. In the Paris basin 37 doublets or triplets comprising 50 plants for district heating are operating in the Dogger aquifer, with an installed thermal power of 278.5 MWt, and annual energy use of 4311.8 TJ/yr. Some also supply heat to greenhouses and fish farms. New geothermal direct-use operations have been realized in the Paris basin since 2007, such as a new doublet for converting the district heating of the Orly Parisian airport to renewable energy, producing 36 GWh per year. In other basins such as Aquitain, Auvergne, Centre, Languedoc, and Lorraine, 16.7 MWt and 137.6 TJ/yr are utilized for bathing and swimming, 18.4 MWt and 183.4 TJ/yr for fish farming, 5.8 MWt and 53.5 TJ/yr of district heating, 8.2 MWt and 123.4 TJ/yr of greenhouse heating, and 9.5 MWt and 157.2 TJ/yr for individual space heating for a total of 58.6 MWt and 655.1 TJ/yr for these areas.

Taken from: John W. Lund and Tonya L. Boyd
Published in Direct Utilization of Geothermal Energy 2015 Worldwide Review

Total thermal installed capacity in MWt:1,345
Direct use in TJ/year12,929
Direct use in GWh/year3,591.7
Capacity factor0.30

The development of geothermal resources in the country has seen several phases: after a major development phase based on low enthalpy resources from sedimentary basins at the beginning of the 1980s; followed by a period of withdrawal during the 1990s with very little new activity; then more recently by a revival of activity of all kinds, based on a policy by the government for energy management and development, especially of renewable energy (French Energy Law in 2005 and the large consulting process "Grenelle de l’environnement" in 2007). 

The goal of the latter act is to have 535 ktoe/year of geothermal heating by 2012, and 1,300 by 2020 composed of district heating (about 40%), large heat pumps (about 20%), and individual geothermal heat pumps (about 40%), based on 220 ktoe/yr in 2006.
A "renewable heating and cooling fund" was set up by the finance law 2009-2011, which supports renewable heating and cooling projects.

The use of geothermal heat pumps started in the 80s, and now provides 20,000 units for heating individual houses. Most geothermal heat pump units are either direct expansion or water-source type with 74% new and 26% retrofit installations.
Geothermal district heating supplies heat to 150,000 dwellings mainly in the Paris and Aquitaine basins.

At present the direct-uses include:

district heating (300 MWt and 4,900 TJ/yr),
greenhouse heating (9 MWt and 155 TJ/yr),
fish farming (19 MWT and 212 TJ/yr),
bathing and swimming (17 MWt and 162 TJ/yr),
and geothermal heat pumps (mainly individual homes) (1,000 MWt and 7,500 TJ/yr),

for a total of 1,345 MWt and 12,929 TJ/yr.

Fish farming, greenhouses and bathing uses are mainly located in the Aquitance Basin or other regions outside of Paris (Boissier et al., 2010).

Taken from the paper by John W. Lund, Derek H. Freeston, and Tonya L. Boyd: "Direct Utilization of Geothermal Energy 2010 Worldwide Review"; published in Proceedings of the World Geothermal Congress 2010, Bali, Indonesia, 25-29 April 2010