A Renault logo photographed in Bavaria, Germany. The French car giant says it is aiming for carbon neutrality in Europe by 2040 and globally by 2050.
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The Renault group works with a French public service Engie on the development of a geothermal project on the site of the car manufacturer in Douai, the collaboration expected to last 15 years.
In a statement, Renault said on Thursday that a subsidiary of Engie would begin drilling work in Douai – which was established in 1970 and focuses on body assembly – at the end of 2023.
The plan centers on extracting hot water from a depth of 4,000 meters, or more than 13,100 feet.
According to Renault, this water will be used to meet “industrial needs and heating processes at the Douai site from 2025”. The water temperature will be between 130 and 140 degrees Celsius.
“Once implemented, this geothermal technology would provide a power of nearly 40 MW continuously”, specifies the company.
“In summer, when the need for heat is lower, geothermal energy could be used to generate carbon-free electricity,” he added.
Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo described the planned program in Douai as “one of the most ambitious decarbonisation projects on a European industrial site”.
According to the International Energy Agency, geothermal energy refers to “energy available as heat contained in or released from the earth’s crust” that can be used to generate electricity and provide heat direct.
Elsewhere, the US Department of Energy says geothermal power “provides renewable energy around the clock and emits little to no greenhouse gases.”
News of Renault’s geothermal project with Engie was accompanied by details of other projects centering on decarbonization operations at several of the auto giant’s industrial facilities.
Looking at the big picture, Renault says it is aiming for carbon neutrality in Europe by 2040 and globally by 2050.
Despite these goals, a senior company executive recently told CNBC that the company sees the internal combustion engine as continuing to play a crucial role in its business for years to come.
Earlier this month, it was announced that the Renault group and the Chinese company Geely had signed a non-binding framework agreement to establish a company focused on the development, production and supply of “highly efficient hybrid and ICE powertrains [internal combustion engine] powertrains.”
Speaking to CNBC’s Charlotte Reed, Renault CFO Thierry Pieton sought to explain some of the reasoning behind the planned partnership with Geely.
“In our opinion, and according to all the studies we have, there is no scenario where ICE and hybrid engines represent less than 40% of the market by 2040,” he said. “So it’s actually…a market that’s going to continue to grow.”
Renault’s continued focus on the internal combustion engine comes at a time when some major economies are looking to move away from vehicles using fossil fuels.
The UK, for example, wants to stop the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2030. It will, from 2035, require all new cars and vans to have zero tailpipe emissions.
The European Union, which the United Kingdom left on January 31, 2020, pursues similar objectives. In the United States, California prohibits the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles from 2035.