France Hopes to be Leader in Green Hydrogen - Pager Power
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France Hopes to be Leader in Green Hydrogen

France Hopes to be Leader in Green Hydrogen
October 26, 2021 Mike Watson

Earlier this month, President Macron announced his wish for France to become a world leader in the production of ‘green hydrogen’ to support its decarbonisation plans. 

President Emmanuel Macron said France would aim to build two mega factories for the production of green hydrogen by 2030, as he unveiled a five-year investment plan aimed at fostering industrial innovation.

What is Green Hydrogen?

In a recent article, we explained what green hydrogen is and how it may be used to reverse global carbon emissions. In summary, hydrogen is an energy carrier that can be used to store, move, and deliver energy produced from other sources. There are no natural hydrogen deposits on earth, it needs to be extracted from other compounds by a chemical process [1]. Hydrogen can be produced by the electrolysis of water (using an electric current to break water, H2O, into its component elements of hydrogen and oxygen). If this electric current is produced by a renewable source, like wind and solar, the subsequent hydrogen produced is known as ‘green’ hydrogen. 

France aims to produce hydrogen without creating any CO2 emissions using electrolysis, powered by carbon-free electricity. “If we produce hydrogen using fossil fuels, there is no point,” Macron said. “There is a strategy that consists of [utilising] renewable energies and electrolysis [that are] very far away and re-importing hydrogen, a bit like liquefied gas. There is a second strategy which will be at the heart of ours: we will try to produce a lot of it in France and [produce it] carbon-free. It’s a huge chance, it’s what will allow us to be a leader.” [2]

France 2030 Road Map

​​France has the world’s second-largest nuclear fleet, which it uses to produce 70% of its energy. It is through the country’s nuclear prowess that Macron plans to generate green hydrogen and decarbonise the country .[3]

Setting out some of the plan’s targets, Macron said France would build a small modular nuclear reactor and two mega factories for the production of green hydrogen.[4] It also aims to build a low-carbon plane and produce large numbers of electric vehicles, all by the end of the decade.

Macron set out the following priorities: [5]

Priority 1: Develop a French electrolysis industry working with partners on larger projects to grow the sector. France is aiming for 6.5 GW of electrolysers by 2030.

Priority 2:  Develop hydrogen-powered, heavy-duty transportation promoting the decarbonisation of heavy vehicles. The low carbon airplane is set to be ready for 2035.

Priority 3: Support research and innovation in order to remain at the forefront internationally. This also involves developing skills by training in the specific nature of hydrogen gas and its uses.

France’s Green Hydrogen Investment

France plans to invest €30 billion to re-industrialise the country and achieve a 35-percent carbon reduction over 2015 levels. Of the €30 billion pledged, €7 billion is dedicated to green hydrogen within the plan. The €30 billion investment is in addition to a €100 billion recovery plan announced last year to help France weather the coronavirus pandemic, a large share of which went to promoting greener energy policies.

“I believe we have the capacity to be the world leader in green hydrogen,” said Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire. “[We have] the technologies, the public money, the industrialists and the common will: this is a guarantee of success, and I am sure that in terms of green hydrogen, we will succeed”, Le Maire told journalists. [6]

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