Geothermal energy: EU approves French public aid to private plant

The European Commission approved the decision that the French State made regarding the 25.3 million euro aid for a geothermal power plant in Alsace. The possible distortion of competition caused by the State’s measure was considered outweighed by the expected environmental benefits.

The funding granted by France concerns a 24 MW plant to be built in Beinheim by a joint venture formed by Belgium-based company Roquette Frères and France-based Electricité de Strasbourg and Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations.

The plant will provide heat to an industrial area managed by Roquette Frères, 15 km away. Moreover, the project will develop pipelines to transport heat, for a total investment of 45.3 million euros.

For the same industrial area, Roquette Frères had already been granted 2010 public funding in November amounting to 11 million euros, for the construction of a biomass heating plant, also approved by the European Commission.

"This geothermal energy project complements the already approved Beinheim biomass project and will also contribute to reaching the EU 2020 environmental objectives without unduly distorting competition. It will further demonstrate that geothermal heat, an innovative renewable technology, can be deployed at commercial scale", said Joaquín Almunia, European Commissioner for competition policy.