On Tuesday, September 30, Constructa, Foncière des Régions, EcoCité Euroméditerranée and ENGIE subsidiary company ENGIE Cofely Services signed the agreement to build France's first marine-powered heating and cooling plant.
Located at the heart of the Grand Port Maritime de Marseille, the Thassalia marine geothermal plant is one of a kind, and will use marine thermal energy to provide heating and cooling for those buildings connected to its network. It will therefore transform the Mediterranean Sea into a sustainable energy source for around 500,000 m2 of Marseille.
How does a marine geothermal plant work?
The plant will generate renewable energy by pumping seawater from the Port of Marseille to feed heat exchangers and heat pumps that will produce either heat or refrigeration to meet demand for both. The resulting heating and cooling services will then be delivered to buildings by a 3-kilometer pipeline network.
Although similar geothermal plants are already in operation, including the one in Paris that draws water from the River Seine, the Thassalia plant will be the first in France to use saltwater; a fact that imposes significantly higher technical constraints, especially in terms of corrosion control.
The Thassalia marine geothermal plant is an excellent example of how innovation is driving the energy transition and energy efficiency, and one to which ENGIE Cofely Services has contributed its expertise in heating technology, whilst Climespace, the ENGIE Group specialist in urban cooling networks, has contributed its refrigeration expertise.
Work on the plant is scheduled to begin at the start of next year, and when it comes on stream at the end of January 2016, it is expected to deliver a 70% reduction in EcoCité greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce its water consumption by 65%. This type of plant therefore offers considerable potential for coastal regions, especially when you realize that 40% of the world's population lives within 100 km of the sea. All of these regions could, one day, benefit from including a Thassalia-like solution in their energy mix.
"Although innovation is integral to ENGIE Cofely Services DNA, we are also committed to providing our partner regions with solutions that meet their needs by anticipating their future challenges and concerns," explains ENGIE Cofely Services CEO Jean-Pierre Monéger, underlining the company's intention to establish Euroméditerranée as a laboratory for urban sustainability.