France has ambitious targets for the green energy transition: By 2030, renewable energies should account for 32% of energy consumption and 40% of electricity production. In addition, the consumption of fossil energies should be reduced by 30% by 2030 and CO2 neutrality should be achieved by 2050.
The French hydrogen agenda
Therefore, France is aiming for a key position in the hydrogen sector. Major world market leaders in the production and liquefaction of hydrogen are French.
Along the entire value chain, well-known companies are turning to the production and use of hydrogen in their respective sectors, such as Michelin, Renault and PSA in the mobility sector. The latter two have already announced hydrogen-powered vehicles for the near future. France is therefore in a good position to build a competitive, low-carbon and sustainable hydrogen industry.
For example, the French hydrogen agenda plans to invest 8 billion euros in the mobility sector by 2030.
The French hydrogen strategy in detail
The French hydrogen strategy is based on three axes:
A first important axis consists in the establishment of an overall sustainable hydrogen production process that does not produce any climate-damaging greenhouse gases. Production methods such as electrolysis are already economically viable and the development of other environmentally friendly methods, such as thermal dissociation, will be fostered to increase their profitably.
A second axis focuses on the use of hydrogen for clean mobility. Hydrogen can be used as power supply or as a supplement to batteries.
A third axis, in the medium and long term, is to use hydrogen to stabilise the energy supply network. The gas can thus act as a long-term storage medium for large quantities of electricity, thereby balancing out fluctuations in the electricity supply from renewable energies.
Global competition is intensifying – cooperation with Germany is planned
On the one hand, the French hydrogen sector is to have a high export potential and, on the other hand, cooperation is planned in the fields of industry and mobility, especially with Germany. In this context, a first cooperation agreement between the CEA and the Max Planck Institute, which coordinates the hydrogen agenda of German industry, is under way.
Hydrogen in the region Grand Est
The region Grand Est is to become a promising player in the hydrogen industry. The region already has a very efficient economic ecosystem. It also benefits from a high proportion of renewable energies and its geographical proximity to Germany and the Benelux countries. Various local players, such as the hydrogen producer Haffner Energy, are expected to play a leading role in the transition process.
In Sarreguemines near the French-German border, is located a first plant for the production of hydrogen from renewable sources. Furthermore, in cooperation with the train manufacturer Alstom, tests with a hydrogen powered train are planned on the line between Paris and Mulhouse.
The DINAMHySE project
The DINAMHySE project which was launched in 2019, needs to be mentioned. The project aims at stimulating and accelerating the hydrogen sector in Grand Est along the entire value chain – from production to use – in order to promote the green energy turnaround.
The basic structure of the project is a consortium founded in 2018, consisting of six companies (ENGIE, EDF, PSA Groupe, Haffner Energy, CMI Groupe, R-GDS), two research institutes (CEA Tech, Université de Lorraine), the municipality of Chaumont and three competence clusters (Fibres-Energivie, Pôle IAR, Pôle Véhicule du Futur).
The aims of the DINAMHySE project are:
- The provision of 10 stations running on locally produced, carbon-free hydrogen by 2023 (and another 40-100 by 2028);
- The provision of 500 light commercial vehicles and 20 heavy transport vehicles by 2023 (and another 2000-5000 light and 80-200 heavy vehicles by 2028);
- The production of 9000 tons of carbon-free hydrogen by 2023 (and 18000-36000 tons by 2028);
- The promotion of the DINAMHyse initiative at national and international level;
- The initiation of further projects in this field.
In addition, the players in the hydrogen sector will be connected thanks to the « H2 Grand Est » club with the idea of creating a “Hydrogen Valley” and establish collaborations with other national and international projects.
Current call for proposals in Grand Est:
A call for proposals for the financial support of projects promoting the development of an infrastructure for hydrogen filling stations is open (deadline December 13th 2020). The aim is to establish partnerships between local authorities and companies. The partners commit to purchase several hydrogen-powered vehicles which will mostly use the local filling station for refuelling. The purchase of up to ten hydrogen vehicles can also be financially supported.