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Geothermal energy in France - statistics & facts

Geothermal energy is derived from the energy found within the Earth’s crust. Heat is produced continuously by magma, which itself is heated by the natural decay of radioactive materials such as uranium and potassium. Geothermal resources are generally considered environmentally friendly, clean and sustainable. Mankind has been using geothermal energy sources for cooking and heating purposes for thousands of years. Technological progress allowed countries to develop the geothermal industry and harness this energy more efficiently. In 2020, the United States dominated geothermal energy production with more than 18,000 gigawatt hours.

Geothermal energy can be divided into two subbranches: geothermal energy found near the surface, and deep geothermal energy. The first operates up to 400 meters deep for heat and cold production. The latter works from 400 meters and below for heating purposes or electricity generation. Only 5 percent of the heating network energy mix in France came from geothermal sources. Most of the deep geothermal heat consumption covered district heating networks.

Due to the nature and origins of geothermal energy, we can easily understand why the world's biggest producers are established in volcanic areas such as Indonesia, Iceland or Japan. While France still has some catching up to do regarding global industry leaders, the French industry is developing nevertheless. In 2020, primary production of geothermal energy amounted to more than 146,000 metric tons of oil equivalent, which was around ten times more than in 2010. The same year, this roughly translated to a gross electricity production of almost 129 gigawatt hours from geothermal energy. According to the European Commission, France's gross electricity generation from geothermal energy will keep rising from 2020 to reach 6,900 GWh in 2050.

Revenue figures as well as employee numbers have been fluctuating between 2013 and 2020. Between 2016 and 2017, industry turnover multiplied by four to reach 360 million euros, only to drop to 280 million euros in 2020. The job employment of the industry has oscillated depending on the years and investments. This said, the number of people employed in the geothermal industry in 2020 reached 2,500 compared to 900 in 2018.


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