French strategy for the development of low-carbon hydrogen #ST25 [fr]

France is focusing its Hydrogen strategy on green hydrogen production through electrolyser development and deployment; and hydrogen use in industry and heavy transport.

Today, Hydrogen is largely produced from fossil fuels through processes that strongly emit greenhouse gases, but it can also be produced by electrolysis of water, with electricity. France, with a low CO2-emitting electrical mix, has an advantage in producing low-carbon hydrogen.

Since 2018, France has been implementing a hydrogen plan through business and research support programs, for the development of new technologies and the setup of projects and demonstrators. Today, hydrogen is identified as a priority by the French Innovation Council, making this sector benefit from part of the government’s future investments, but also by the French industrial and research ecosystem and by local and regional authorities.

The French strategy is based on a broad consultation of all stakeholders (research, industries, institutions, etc.) and presents three objectives:

  • Significant green hydrogen production through sufficient electrolyser installation
  • Development of clean mobility especially for heavy-duty vehicles
  • The development of an industrial sector that creates jobs and guarantees our technological prominence

The national strategy plans to allocate €7 billion of public support until 2030 with three priorities: support for R&D will enable the development of more efficient technologies for all uses of hydrogen; support for first productions and for industrialisation will combine a European approach (partnerships with other European countries to develop large-scale projects) with a national approach; and deployment support will enable economies of scale and lower production costs.

The actions highlighted in this strategy for 2020-2023 correspond to the main hydrogen market trends. The aim is to develop a French electrolysis sector to decarbonize industry, to develop heavy mobility using low-carbon hydrogen, and to support research, innovation and skills development in order to foster the uses of tomorrow.

Priority 1: Develop a French electrolysis industry to decarbonize industry

Water electrolysis technologies are favoured by this strategy, being the most promising low-carbon hydrogen production process in the French context. The country sets a target of 6.5 GW of electrolysers installed in 2030 and offers tools for developing large-capacity projects and moving to industrial scale. The example of a European implementation is given, in a logic of integration of the value chain at the European level.

Low-carbon production of hydrogen will reduce industrial emissions, as industry today is the largest consumer of hydrogen, particularly in fuel refining, chemistry (production of ammonia and methanol), or electronics and agro-food. The French strategy proposes to support the adaptation and development of industrial processes to technologies using hydrogen, and to set up mechanisms encouraging the use of green hydrogen.

Priority 2: Develop heavy mobility using low-carbon hydrogen

The use of hydrogen is particularly suitable for heavy transport since it has advantages of power and autonomy. The French strategy offers a set of tools to manufacture reliable vehicles, to provide efficient and flexible equipment, and to develop the skills to produce and maintain this sector. For example, a call for projects has been awarded 350 million euros over three years to develop technological components and systems that can be used for the production, transport and use of hydrogen, including its use in transport.

The French strategy also proposes to coordinate the industrial sector and local and regional authorities to synchronize the emergence of supplies with the development of uses, and accelerate the deployment of transport using hydrogen at the territorial scale. A call for projects with 275 million euros over three years will support "territorial hydrogen hubs", bringing together communities and industries for the establishment of territorial ecosystems grouping different uses of hydrogen (industry and mobility).

Priority 3: Support research, innovation and skills development to foster future uses

The use of hydrogen is multiple: renewable energy storage to improve the stability of energy networks, uses in industry, transport, in particular aircraft and ships, or in gas networks… The French strategy aims to continue the R&D effort to remain at the forefront of technology in this area, and to support the industrialization of emerging technologies. A research programme specifically dedicated to hydrogen applications will receive 65 million euros in 2021.
With the development of hydrogen uses, the need for skills will be greater in many sectors of activity where hydrogen uses will appear (transport, environment, security, engineering, research, etc.). France will support the development of new curricula in schools and/or higher education institutions, as well as in relevant companies of the sector, in order to implement specific training.

This strategy is in line with the European strategy to achieve Europe’s objectives for climate and for the creation of industrial jobs. The European Commission has created the Clean Hydrogen Alliance, which will organise and coordinate the activities of the Member States and the various industries on this sector, and to which France will contribute actively.

Australia is also focused on large-scale production of clean hydrogen, from the electrolysis of water by renewable energies, or from fossil resources coupled with carbon capture and storage technologies.

France and Australia are interested in developing their international collaborations in this area beyond their immediate region (Europe for France and Asia-Pacific for Australia), and many opportunities for joint programmes remain to be defined and exploited. Research cooperation is well underway with the recent creation of an International Research Network comprising four Australian laboratories and eight French laboratories, but industrial cooperation is still in its infancy. France and Australia have many potential areas of collaboration, from the technology of electrolysis to produce green hydrogen, to technologies allowing hydrogen uses in industries and heavy mobility.

Dernière modification : 22/10/2020

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