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Europe’s first geothermal power plant, launched by GDF SUEZ and Euroméditerranée, in the French City of Marseille

Energy Communities

The Mediterranean Sea will soon be covering the energy needs of the buildings of Euroméditerranée, Marseille’s business eco-district. A first in Europe in an eco-district! A groundbreaking project led by Cofely Services and Climespace –urban cooling systems’ specialist.

The marine geothermal power plant will be installed beneath the Arenc pier of the Port of Marseille (Grand Port Maritime de Marseille or GPMM). A pumping station will draw water at a 5 meter depth. At that depth, seawater is at a constant temperature. Heat pumps will recover the calories from the sea to transfer them to the hot and cold distribution network. This 3km long urban network will cool buildings in the summer and heat them in the winter. Upon completion, 500 000 m2 of buildings should be connected to the grid, among which: the Euromed Centre, the Docks and the future Inhabited Park of Arenc.

The aim is to combine innovation in energy production with lightweight architecture and better quality of life”, explains Paul Colombani, Deputy CEO of the Etablissement Public Aménagement Euroméditerranée (EPAM), project authority in charge of the urban renewal program launched in 2009. Indeed, the new heating and cooling network avoids unsightly chimneys, suppresses technical rooms and all of the cooling system on terraces, thus freeing space above and below ground level.

The pooling of powers is key to this project that is of interest to all large Mediterranean cities”, shares Michel Estève, GDF SUEZ Deputy Managing Director for the Mediterranean. “At the very heart of EuroMed’s Eco-City, this unique power plant is the perfect illustration of an innovation “à la française” and converts the Mediterranean Sea into a sustainable energy source for approximately 500 000 m2 in Marseille. This project reveals the potential of an opening to the sea for all coastal cities, in France and worldwide, as being one way to achieve energy transition for the benefit of populations and their environment”. 

Marseille’s marine geothermal power plant – Key figures: 

 - a 30 million euro investment by GDF SUEZ and another 5 million invested by the French State, the EU, the PACA Regional Council, the Departmental Council, the Marseille Provence Métropole (MPM) urban community and the City of Marseille. - a 16 MW cold production achieved by refrigeration units fed by seawater and heat recovery thermo-frigorific pumps. - an 18.6 MW heat production through cold recovery thermo-frigorific pumps and gas boilers for back-up and safety. - at least 70% of sustainable energy and a 70% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.

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Source: Hugo Whitmore

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