Hydrogen, natural ties between Normandy and the Nordic countries
Hydrogen is among the most promising energy sources for the future, as its potential is still being explored today. The possibility to stock it and thus the impact on the power grids could be a game-changer. Also, the versatility of hydrogen is propitious, with applications ranging from transport to heating or cooling. Both Normandy and the Nordic countries have recognized the importance of the hydrogen sector, setting up ambitious targets for its development and structured national and regional plans.
Hydrogen, a priority in France towards energy transition
Traditionally, the hydrogen market worldwide is dedicated to the molecules’ industrial application in the oil and gas industry. Around 60 Mt of hydrogen are produced every year globally, with 1 Mt coming from France. But since recently, there is a broad recognition that hydrogen’s energy potential is massive and somewhat under-exploited even if it could be an essential piece of the energy transition. That is why the French Government unveiled in 2018 a roadmap for hydrogen, pursuing three objectives:
- Deploy the industrial exploitation of hydrogen by providing R & D and innovation funding to hydrogen companies and support in the scaling of hydrogen exploitation.
- Use hydrogen in sustainable mobility, in addition to batteries. The Government has formulated two objectives for that part: the creation of 100 hydrogen charging stations for clean vehicles within three years and add 5,000 vehicles working on hydrogen to public fleets.
- Stabilize of the power grid through the commercial application of hydrogen processes targeting interactions with natural gas.
The Government has granted €80 M to the French agency for the ecological transition to fund innovation, the ADEME. The last evaluation of the program, in March 2020, mentioned that 20 projects are now supported, such as 43 hydrogen charging stations, which are now in function. It is also essential to specify that hydrogen-related projects are eligible for all existing innovation grants, such as the “Investissement d’Avenir” program (in French) or the French research agency’s grants.
This national plan is complementary to the regional actions that are being implemented, especially in Normandy.
Normandy bets on hydrogen across the entire value chain
The hydrogen sector benefits from many of Normandy’s structural assets and the support of the Region and the EU. The Normandy Regional Council adopted in 2018 the “Normandy hydrogen deployment plan,” a regional map for the next five years with 46 actions designed to foster the most robust hydrogen ecosystem possible. €15 million will be invested by the Region to fund those actions, in partnership with private and public stakeholders. Normandy is also one of the leading regions in the European project Hydrogen Valley, together with the Sorg og Fjordane region in Norway, Gävleborg’s Region in Sweden, and Nordjylland in Denmark.
Each application of hydrogen applies in the Region, from mobility to production and industrial applications. In 2019, around 60,000 GWh of power were generated through hydrogen processes, a crucial help for a significant energy consumer region through its industrial and logistic activities. Hydrogen enjoys both a complete ecosystem to thrive and the support of the Region through grants and customized programs.
Over 1,700 companies are involved in hydrogen-related activities, employing 24,800 people in 2019. The Region can also take advantage of high-level research centers and higher education programs, enabling the local companies to have a skilled workforce and partnerships for their innovation projects. Several research centers are conducting projects in the sustainable energy field, among which CORIA for reactive flows, the GREAH in energy storage, and the Institut Carnot ESP in industrial expertise.
Hydrogen is also among the solutions for the energy transition in the Nordics
As we mentioned, Normandy is part of the Hydrogen Valley along some Nordic regions, such as Nordjylland in Denmark, Vestland in Norway, and Gavlëborg in Sweden. In this vein, Nordic countries have already implemented different initiatives to develop their hydrogen industries, and their potential is widely recognized.
In Denmark, public and private actors are involved in the process. On the one hand, public agencies like Energistyrelsen (Danish energy agency) and the Højteknologifonden (New technologies fund) support companies and universities, and co-finance research projects. On the other hand, private companies such as Everfuel, which is developing clean hydrogen-powered buses. Linking France and Denmark, the French company Air Liquide has created HyBalance, a production site for clean hydrogen in the Danish town of Hobro, a project financed by European Union grants.
In Norway, hydrogen is finding new innovative applications such as in the maritime sector. It is one of the new development axes highlighted by organizations like the French Maritime Cluster, present at the French-Norwegian Forum on Smart & Clean Ocean in October.
Contact the local development agency AD Normandy for more information and guidance in your investment project in the region.