Source:ThinkGeoEnergy – Geothermal Energy News
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ThinkGeoEnergy – Geothermal Energy News

Reported from France today, geothermal and lithium group Arverne, created by former oil companies to take advantage of geothermal energy, enters the stock market today. The company specializing in drilling hopes to boost the activities of its subsidiaries, from the production of lithium for batteries to geothermal energy for all.

To develop deep and surface geothermal energy, Arverne takes care of drilling activities itself, and has several dedicated machines.

“We don’t talk enough about the subsoil, it’s missing in the world of green energies ,” laments Pierre Brossollet to explain his journey. An oil engineer formerly with Total (now TotalEnergies) and Maurel & Prom, he founded the Arverne group in 2018 to “ take advantage of the potential of the subsoil by offering integrated solutions ”. It is always with this objective that he justifies, to L’Usine Nouvelle, the entry into the stock market of the company – parent company (and owner of more than 60%) of the company Lithium de France , but also of two subsidiaries dedicated to geothermal energy (2gré and DrillHeat) and another drilling specialist.

The company is bought by Spac Transition (which entered the stock market in 2021, and takes the name Arverne) to which are added investments from Crédit Mutuel Equity, Ademe Investissement and Sycomore AM. The operation values ??the company at more than EUR 300 million, the exact figure will only be known once the IPO is effective. “ This allows us to finance ourselves, because we are going to raise more than EUR 150 million, but it is also a lever to communicate on our projects, which are too little known ,” explains Pierre Brossollet, who dreams of as a “ French champion of geothermal energy ”.

If we believe the Arverne group, the potential offered by the use of underground heat is enormous . The company of nearly 150 employees, which achieved 10 million euros in turnover in 2022, hopes to reach 200 to 350 million euros in 2027 before exceeding one billion around 2030. For this, Arverne is counting accelerate in geothermal energy thanks to its IPO, but will have to finance its largest projects, particularly relating to lithium, through debt and other fundraising.

“ The subsoil is always very expensive, especially when it comes to drilling wells, ” recognizes Pierre Brossollet, estimating that the needs of France’s first lithium project should exceed one billion euros. The operator plans to extract both heat and “low carbon” lithium from geothermal waters in northern Alsace . It aims to begin production in 2027, and will have to install drilling wells, as well as a refinery. Lithium de France is supported by two heavyweights in Norwegian industry: the oil company Equinor and the aluminum producer Hydro.

With five exclusive research permits awarded in France (and others currently under review), Arverne could launch other white gold extraction projects. “ Lithium will be a major contributor to our income, but after 2027 ,” underlines Pierre Brossollet. In the meantime, the company intends to monetize its drilling capacity with other companies, but also to increase geothermal projects, both for individuals and industrialists.

“ We are the only group in France to do all geothermal energy ,” praises Pierre Brossollet, emphasizing Arverne’s integrated model, which he assures can avoid the explosion in costs which has long handicapped the sector. On the one hand, Arverne wants to develop so-called “deep” geothermal energy, consisting of fetching heat or cold between 1500 and 3000 meters deep, via large geothermal plants (which do not produce electricity, but the heat). “ It’s a solution for large energy consumers who want to decarbonize, particularly urban networks or industries ,” explains Pierre Brossollet, who cites an 18 megawatt-hour project in the Grand-Est, to power Mars factories. and saffron. This makes it possible to obtain stable energy at a good price… on the condition that the factories are located above exploitable deposits, he recognizes.

On the other hand, Arverne relies on surface geothermal energy – the famous geothermal energy of minimal importance – which simply drills 200 meters to place a geothermal probe. The idea is then to benefit from the inertia of the ground, which remains around 12 to 15°C, to power a heat pump displaying “ very good efficiency, with a COP of 5 to 7 [between electrical energy spent and thermal energy produced],” figures the CEO of Arverne. Geothermal heat pumps have not succeeded in establishing themselves in France for the moment , due to high investment prices and installation complexities, recognizes the engineer. Who praises the robustness and long-term return on investment of his solution, what’s more is capable of “produce natural cold, by simply circulating water from the ground to the air .”

Arverne, which owns three surface drilling rigs (and five deep drilling units), is taking advantage of the influx of money from its IPO to order four more. With the hope that this spotlight will also allow it to popularize ” the firepower of geothermal energy, which is non-intermittent, renewable, sovereign, local and capable of producing cold “, explains Pierre Brossollet, convinced that ” the oil expertise ” of its teams will also help to restore the image of this sector, tainted by the earthquakes caused in Alsace by the company Géorhin (formerly Fonroche) … bought by Arverne at the beginning of the year after the opening of a safeguard procedure. This time, the start could be the right one.

Source: L’Usine Nouvelle

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