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Accelerating the energy transition by harvesting the power of geothermal

A conversation with Maximilien de Maisonneuve, Geothermal Director at Vallourec® New Energies
Energy transition

Geothermal energy is increasingly viewed as an important contributor in the transition to renewable energy. With benefits that include cost efficiency and a minimal footprint, geothermal projects are launching throughout the world.

By leveraging its products and industry knowledge, Vallourec® New Energies is providing geothermal operators with reliable solutions. To explore the challenges and solutions in this high-potential energy field, we had the opportunity to interview Maximilien de Maisonneuve, who shared his vision with us.

Geothermal energy has great potential as a nearly limitless renewable source of heating and power.

Deeply drilled wells connect this resource to consumers on the surface, allowing large amounts of energy to be extracted without taking up much space. “In the city where I live, 12 000 equivalent homes could be heated with a footprint the size of a quarter of a soccer field,” says Maximilien de Maisonneuve. “This means geothermal wells could be drilled almost anywhere, including relatively close to cities, without disrupting urban life.


The geothermal market is now gaining momentum around the world. In an effort to promote the use of renewables, the European Union emphasized geothermal last year as part of its energy plan until 2050. The US and Southeast Asia are also altering their legislation to adopt geothermal to a greater extent than previously. “These regions are really removing obstacles to make geothermal projects happen,” Maximilien says. “Lights are turning green one after the other.

An accessible alternative to fossil fuels

The rising popularity of geothermal energy can be attributed to several factors. While solar and wind energies are dependent of weather, making them intermittent by nature, geothermal offers a consistent energy source that is perfect for base load. It’s also becoming more accessible, cost-efficient (and, of course, cleaner) than coal, oil and gas.

Additionally, with better access to geological data around potential well sites, risks and costs are being reduced even further. “Some customers are constructing wells in as little as 14 days,” Maximilien explains. “With more underground data available, we can reduce the risk of constructing a geothermal well where there isn’t a sufficient resource.” As projects are repeated and these methods improve, well construction is bound to become industrialized at scale, making costs even more competitive.

Navigating the field

In today’s energy climate, geothermal energy can provide stability in terms of cost and supply. While there are three possibilities for accessing it – conventional, enhanced and advanced – each comes with its own set of challenges.

  • Conventional geothermal power systems are operable where naturally occurring heat and water are sufficient enough to allow extraction. High-resistance, robust tubulars ensure the long-term integrity of wells and reduce the need to replace pipes every few years. For these more established means of extraction, Vallourec provides customers with well design expertise as well as corrosion and connection testing. These tests can be executed in Vallourec labs or in real conditions to predict corrosion levels as well as the life duration of wells.

  • Enhanced geothermal extraction has a different set of needs. To retrieve geothermal energy in locations where no reservoir is present, this method necessitates the creation of an artificial reservoir before energy extraction can occur. This process requires the construction of extra-long wells and the aid of technology capable of resisting high pressures.

  • Advanced geothermal involves a closed-loop system with a set of technologies under development by several start-ups. One option is to reuse existing unproductive wells, or to drill new ones by installing an advanced system that will extract power without depending on groundwater presence. Our Thermocase® VIT (Vacuum Insulated Tubing) solution, designed several years ago, is used for these advanced closed-loop geothermal systems. Thanks to its excellent insulation properties, hot and cold fluids can coexist in close proximity, which is not possible with standard tubing. Through its unique design, this solution minimizes fluid heat loss, thus increasing the well’s overall power output.

Joining forces to find solutions

Vallourec® New Energies is leveraging its industry expertise to innovate new equipment and drive the success of these geothermal systems. “We’ve been providing tubulars to the geothermal industry for years,” Maximilien says. “But with our formal Vallourec® New Energies offer in place for a year now, we’ve redoubled our efforts to identify solutions and adapt them to our customers’ needs.

By tasking its R&D experts to adapt products to geothermal applications, training technical services teams and finding innovative partners, Vallourec is expanding its capabilities in enhanced and advanced geothermal. As many O&G players are moving to this sector, some are even establishing their own start-ups centered around geothermal extraction – and looking to Vallourec for support.

Among Vallourec’s advanced Geothermal partners are Canadian technology company EavorTM, on a pilot project in New Mexico (US) and commercial scale project in Bavaria (Germany); and American technology company GreenFire Energy for several closed-loop projects. Vallourec is also supplying full tubular package to Australian company Vulcan Energy to execute direct low-carbon lithium extraction through geothermal wells in Rhine Graben (Germany). Bolstering these projects, Vallourec demonstrates its commitment to accelerating geothermal and playing a role in the energy transition.

We need to educate people on all levels about the potential and the benefits of geothermal energy,” Maximilien says. “I’m only seeing positive news on that front. There’s lots of work to be done and we can’t do everything, but there are no limits to exploring new avenues.

About Maximilien de Maisonneuve

Maximilien de Maisonneuve, a graduate engineer from ECAM, began his career in the automotive subcontracting sector, where he held the position of plant manager in Spain and France.
In 2005, Maximilien joined Vallourec, where he held several positions. Starting out as a management controller in charge of industrial performance for the Group’s Automotive division in France and then Brazil, he went on to manage the Drilling Products division for the Europe-Africa zone. Subsequently, based in the United States, he took over commercial management of the entire division, before heading Vallourec Canada.
In 2021, Maximilien joined the Vallourec® New Energies team to develop the geothermal market for the Group. His versatility and diverse international experience make him a key asset in this rapidly evolving sector.