In the Oise, Elisabeth Borne announces ten hydrogen giga-factories

There were these seven billion euros of public investment in decarbonized hydrogen announced in September 2020, during the presentation of the France Recovery Plan. To this were added another two billion from France 2030, an investment plan on ten technologies of the future on which France does not want to be left behind.

The whole therefore gives a strategy endowed with nine billion euros which France is adopting with the hope of becoming one of the world leaders in this energy vector which, when it is obtained in a low-carbon way, is called upon to play a key role in the ecological transition (see box). The objective is both to decarbonize industrial processes, a major challenge in heavy industry, and mobility where hydrogen can allow heavy transport (trucks, utility vehicles, coaches, etc.) to access mobility. electricity other than by battery.

5.3 billion euros on ten hydrogen technology projects

It is one of these aspects of this hydrogen strategy that Elisabeth Borne is concretizing this Wednesday morning during a trip to Venette, near Compiègne (Oise), at the research and development (R & D) center of the equipment manufacturer. Plastic Omnium automobile. The Prime Minister will announce the ten French projects selected within the framework of the European mechanism Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI). “It makes it possible to ask the European Commission, with a group of other EU countries, for authorization to give massive state aid to industrial projects”, we remind Matignon.

In December 2020, 23 EU states with Norway launched an PIIEC on hydrogen technologies. Of the hundred or so projects submitted, 41 proposed by 35 companies, including ten French ones, were selected. Out of these ten projects, “France will grant 2.1 billion euros in public credits which will be accompanied by 3.2 billion in private investments”, announces Matignon.

Plastic Omnium is in the list. Near Venette, the manufacturer will build a hydrogen tank production plant in the coming years. Among the other French people, we find Elogen, which will produce electrolysers in Vendôme (Loir-et-Cher) or McPhy, which will do the same in the Belfort region. There are also projects in fuel cells, in the field of materials for mobility equipment or even in commercial vehicles, with Hyvia, a subsidiary of Renault and Plug Power, which aims to convert vehicles to hydrogen of the diamond brand intended for the transport of goods or passengers… “These investments are therefore made on very varied technologies, both in support of R & D and support for production”, we are pleased to say. at Matignon.

Aim for 10.5 gigawatts of carbon-free hydrogen by 2030

These ten future industrial sites will be built in seven French regions, from Belfort to Beziers via Venette or Vendome. Matingon hopes for 5,200 direct jobs and specifies that this PIIEC is only in its first wave. “Others will follow, in particular on the uses of hydrogen or on mobility”, specifies an adviser to Elisabeth Borne. “Other French projects are once again in the running”, welcomes Elisabeth Borne.

This is indeed the whole objective of this hydrogen strategy, recalls Matignon: “to create a sovereign end-to-end sector, with players capable of inventing new technologies and players capable of using this hydrogen”. It is also to reach massive levels of decarbonated hydrogen production. “We hope to produce 10.5 gigawatts by electrolysis in 2030 and to have a hundred thousand jobs related to hydrogen on this same horizon”, we specify here again at the office of the Prime Minister.

By converting electricity into gas or liquid form, hydrogen has the advantage of being able to store this electricity for a long time and to make it more easily transportable. This hydrogen can be obtained by electrolysis of water. The process consists of passing an electric current through water (H₂O) to separate its two chemical elements. Oxygen on one side, hydrogen (H₂) on the other, which then just needs to be recovered. And if the electricity used during the operation is low carbon, that is to say of nuclear or renewable origin (solar, wind, etc.), then you get “green” hydrogen. It is this hydrogen by electrolysis which can be an accelerator of the energy transition. Without having the answer to everything, recalled the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (Iddri), in a study published last January.

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