Bouillante 1: a high-energy geothermal pilot plant

In the 1960s and 1970s, in Guadeloupe, BRGM and Eurafrep carried out underground exploration to assess the potential for high-temperature geothermal energy. Since the results of this research were promising, the 1st geothermal power plant, Bouillante 1, was commissioned in 1986.

Centrale géothermique de Bouillante (Guadeloupe, vers 2000).
Bouillante geothermal power plant (Guadeloupe, around 2000). © BRGM

In the 20th century geothermal energy was developed in many countries to generate electricity or for heating. Due to its geological context, metropolitan France has turned towards low and very low energy. The only high-energy project is in Guadeloupe with the Bouillante geothermal power plant.

The adventure began in the 1960s and 1970s, when BRGM and then Eurafrep carried out underground exploration and drilled the first boreholes to assess the potential for capturing high-temperature geothermal energy. The research results were conclusive and the first geothermal power plant was commissioned in the town of Bouillante in 1986.

A geothermal power plant with high potential

At the end of the 1990s, BRGM owned 70% of the Géothermie Bouillante geothermal company and the remaining 30% was held by EDF. The two shareholders decided to study an extension of the operation and launched a new drilling campaign from January to June 2001 with the financial support of the Guadeloupe region, ADEME and EDF. In 2004, with the commissioning of the second unit, the Bouillante geothermal power plant provided 6% of Guadeloupe's electricity needs.

On 5th July 2016, the BRGM Group  sold its majority holding in the Bouillante geothermal power plant in Guadeloupe to the US company Ormat Technologies, a world leader in geothermal energy, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and to the French public-sector financial institution CDC (Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations). The Bouillante high-energy geothermal power plant is the only one of its kind in France, tapping into a natural reservoir of very hot water (250°C) that is used to produce electricity and is constantly replenished. It is one of the main contributors to renewable energy production in Guadeloupe.

Séparateur eau et vapeur de la centrale géothermique de Bouillante, Guadeloupe, vers 2000. © BRGM
Water and steam separator at the Bouillante geothermal power plant, Guadeloupe, around 2000.
Préparation d’un traceur organique, plate-forme de Bouillante (Guadeloupe).
Preparation of an organic tracer, Bouillante plant, Guadeloupe, 1990s.
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