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How France and Normandy bet on hydrogen to accelerate the green transition



France is putting all its efforts together to become a European leader in clean hydrogen production. A choice confirmed by the country’s recovery plan, including a budget of €7,2 billion dedicated to developing the green hydrogen industry. We now want to explore which applications companies from the hydrogen sector have found on the French territory, especially in the Normandy Region.

France is on the road to becoming a European leader in green hydrogen

France is putting together a massive investment plan to develop the hydrogen sector and become its European leader in the years to come. Out of the €100 billion Recovery Plan, €7.2 billion will be allocated to developing “carbon-free” hydrogen production. The first three years of the plan will see the most investment, with €3.4 billion spent between 2020 and 2023, and €1.5 billion devoted to the sole development of industrial projects and electrolyzers’ production.

One of France’s hydrogen investment plans’ primary objectives is to reach a carbon-free hydrogen production capacity of 6.5 GW by electrolysis in ten years. To achieve it, the government wants to create a project of common European interest (PIIEC) on hydrogen, from the beginning of 2021. Such a project will be accompanied by the launch of a French Priority Research Program in 2020, with an investment of €65 million for R&D to “prepare the future generation of hydrogen technologies (such as batteries, tanks, materials, electrolyzers…)” seconded by a second investment of €30 million dedicated to training and education in the field.

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The French Agency for Ecological Transition (ADEME) is also playing a role in developing the French hydrogen sector, with the launch of two calls for projects this September:

With all these means mobilized, there is no doubt France will quickly occupy a dominant place in the European Hydrogen market.

Read more: Proposals to make France a leader in renewable and law-carbon hydrogen

Normandy is designing its hydrogen sector

Normandy aims to become the first French host for hydrogen-related projects and plays an essential role in the European Hydrogen Valleys Partnership. The Region recently adopted a €15 million budget over three years to shape the hydrogen sector on its territory and structure an ecosystem where green hydrogen is a key component, such as industry, mobility, and logistics.

Such projects have various natures and many different applications.

Read more: Hydrogen, natural ties between Normandy and the Nordic countries

Normandy: hydrogen for mobility

For example, the Region has hosted the implementation of a large hydrogen mobility project between 2016-2019: EAS HyMob, co-financed by the European Union. The objective was to deploy a network of start-up stations with captive fleets, while developing a connected device for station access and billing, in a public-private partnership between the Normandy Region, Serfim, and Symbio. Fifteen hydrogen charging stations (of either 350-700 bars) are now installed on major Normandy highways, and the deployment of a fleet of captive hydrogen vehicles ensures daily use.

Normandy: hydrogen for logistics

The company Chéreau also chose Normandy as the background to create and produce the world’s first hydrogen refrigerated semi-trailer truck named ROAD. The project has mobilized 1,000 people for three years and was tested on Normandy’s roads from July to October 2019 for a trial run. “Chéreau’s research and development department has developed several technological building blocks: aerodynamics, lightening of the structure, insulation, multiplexing (interconnectivity), and a set bringing together fuel cell and generator, key elements of the hydrogen production.” 1 The semi-trailer takes around 10-15 minutes to recharge fully and has an autonomy of about three days. Of the €5.5 million spent on this project, 36% were covered at a national level and €775.000 by the Normandy Region.

ROAD, Chereau’s first hydrogen semi-trailer

Hydrogen for green energy production

Normandy wants to have a full range of hydrogen offers on its territory. The H2V Normandy project is an excellent example of such desire of the Region since it aims to create a green hydrogen production plant in the industrial zone of Port-Jérôme, between Le Havre and Rouen by 2022. The company Is currently building four industrial buildings for the industrial production of hydrogen by electrolysis of water. Part of the hydrogen produced will be used within the chemical platform while the rest will be injected into GRTgaz’s network. The plant, which construction represents an investment of between €230-251 million, will produce 28.000 tons of hydrogen per year, which means 3% of France’s yearly energy creation.

Read more: Normandy is part of the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance (in French)

Such examples are good examples of the Region’s capability to innovate and develop its green hydrogen industry. It is also shaping a strategic environment for establishing a hydrogen hub on its territory, with the help of subventions and grants. The Region wants to increase the number of hydrogen-related initiatives in the coming years, with regular calls for national and European projects, which will indeed be eased by France’s strong position in this strategic industry.

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Contact AD Normandie

Hélène Dapremont

Inward Investment Manager
Energy sector, focus renewables & hydrogen

Phone: +33 (0)2 31 53 34 44
Cell: +33 (0)6 71 51 51 22