Elisabeth Borne announced the first ten “giga-factories” of hydrogen

It has seven billion euros of public investment in decarbonized hydrogen announced in September 2020, during the presentation of the French Recovery Plan. To this is added another two billion from France 2030, a plan to invest in ten technologies of the future in which France does not want to be left behind.

So the whole provides a strategy endowed with nine billion euros adopted by France with the hope of becoming one of the world leaders in this vector of energy which, if it is obtained in a low carbon way, is said to play an important role. in ecological transition (see box). The purpose is to decarbonize industrial processes, a major challenge in heavy industry, and mobility where hydrogen can allow heavy transport (trucks, utility vehicles, coaches, etc. pa) to access the movement. electricity except the battery.

5.3 billion euros in ten hydrogen technology projects

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

In December 2020, 23 EU states together with Norway launched a PIIEC on hydrogen technologies. Of the hundred or more projects submitted, 41 proposed by 35 companies, including ten French ones, were chosen. From these ten projects, “France will provide 2.1 billion euros in public credits that will be accompanied by 3.2 billion in private investment”, announced Matignon.

Plastic Omnium is on the list. Near Venette, the manufacturer will build a hydrogen tank production plant in the coming years. Among other French people, we see 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 on fuel cells, in the field of materials for mobility equipment or even commercial vehicles, with Hyvia, a subsidiary of Renault and Plug Power, which aims to change the hydrogen vehicle of the diamond brand intended for the transportation of goods. or passengers… “These investments are made in very different technologies, both in support of R&D and production support”, we are happy to say. in 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 expects 5,200 direct jobs and determined that this PIIEC is still in its first wave. “Some will follow, especially with the use of hydrogen or the movement”, determined a consultant of Elisabeth Borne. “Some French projects are running again”, welcomed Elisabeth Borne.

This is in fact 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 who are able to use this hydrogen”. This is also to reach large production levels of decarbonated hydrogen. “We hope to produce 10.5 gigawatts through electrolysis in 2030 and have a hundred thousand jobs related to hydrogen on the same horizon”, we point out here again in the Prime Minister’s office.

By converting electricity into gas or liquid form, hydrogen has the advantage of being able to store this electricity for a long time and making it easier to transport. 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 only needs to be recovered. And if the electricity used during operation is low carbon, that is nuclear or renewable sources (solar, wind, etc.), then you get “green” hydrogen. It is hydrogen through electrolysis that becomes an accelerator of energy transfer. If there is no answer at all, recalls the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (Iddri), in a study published in January.

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