BRGM installs an experimental geothermal platform on its site

A pioneer in geothermal heating networks in the 1970s and 1980s, BRGM was in the forefront in the 2000s in relaunching the reliable and profitable use of “very low-energy” geothermal energy. It installed on its site an experimental platform for surface geothermal heat exchangers (< 200 meters), which was inaugurated at the end of 2008 by the Prefect of the Centre Val de Loire Region, Bernard Fragneau, and the President of the Centre-Val de Loire Region, François Bonneau. The platform celebrated its 10th anniversary on an anniversary day on June 24, 2019.

Installation d’un échangeur à Orléans et de trois fibres optiques pour mesurer l’évolution de la température du sol.
Installation on the platform of a horizontal geothermal exchanger at a depth of 1 m and optical fibres to measure the evolution of the ground temperature. © BRGM

Since the early 2000s, the heat pump market has been growing rapidly in several parts of the world, particularly in Scandinavia, in Switzerland, and in Germany for geothermal heat pumps. To ensure its sustainability, BRGM has been supporting this new development from the outset, in partnership with the Agence de l'environnement et de la maîtrise de l'énergie (ADEME), contracting authorities, private individuals, local and regional authorities and professionals, by disseminating information and organising events.

BRGM will continue supporting the development of geothermal energy in heating networks such as those in the Paris basin. At the same time, it has already made preparations to play a leading role in the spread of geothermal energy to homes through an inventory of the potential available in near-surface ground and groundwater, or through the experimental platform set up in Orléans.

An experimental platform for geothermal heat exchangers on the BRGM site

The first experimental platform was set up on the BRGM campus in Orléans. In a 400m² clearing, a horizontal exchanger was installed at a depth of 1m, complete with a range of instruments (for subsurface temperature measurements by optical fibre at different depths, humidity measurements, weather station, etc.).

The platform was installed to meet four needs: experimental validation of innovative geothermal exchanger models, improving and testing underground heat storage devices, evaluating geothermal cooling systems, and testing diagnostic tools for assessing the quality of geothermal installations.

In ten years, it has fostered innovation in the sector through the implementation of fourteen innovative projects, in collaboration with companies and local authorities. The results of these projets have been published in scientific journals (8 of them in peer-reviewed journals).

In addition, the geothermal platform is a showcase of market technologies, which makes it an indispensable partner for professionals in the sector.

Its success has prompted BRGM's geothermal division to renew and modernise the platform. On June 24 2019, the "Thermodynamic Machinery" chalet was inaugurated for simulating heat exchanges between the subsurface and the energy system of a building – a single-family home heat pump or a solar panel – so as to measure the excess heat produced.

As a specialist in surface and subsurface studies, BRGM is helping to structure the geothermal sector in France and improve the visibility and performance of this renewable energy source.

Les différents types d'échangeurs souterrains des pompes à chaleur géothermiques sur la plateforme expérimentale en géothermie du BRGM (Orléans, Loiret, 2009).
The different types of underground heat pump exchangers on BRGM's experimental geothermal platform (Orléans, Loiret, 2009).
Back to the chapter