France: Occitanie Mobilizes for the Emergence of the Hydrogen Sector

By June 19, 2020 9   min read  (1710 words)

June 19, 2020 |

Occitanie Region hydrogen plan Main

At the beginning of the year, the General Secretariat for Investment (SGPI) launched a Call for Expressions of Interest (AMI) for large-scale hydrogen projects. 

Nearly 150 applications were received across the country, including 15 in the Occitanie region, representing a total investment in the region of € 460 million and 3,500 direct jobs . The Occitan region aims to become the 1 st region positive energy in Europe by 2050, and hydrogen is a strategic vector. With HyDéo, a brand created and run by the AD’OCC agency and all of these projects led by industrial players, research, and Occitania, ambition is there.

For more than 10 years, companies and laboratories in the Occitanie Region have been mobilizing around the emergence of an innovative and job-creating hydrogen sector. Now mature and available on the market, hydrogen technologies need to move to an industrial production scale to become competitive and more widely deployed solutions. Certain uses, with high pollutant emissions, are still in search of a zero-emission alternative and for which hydrogen may be a credible solution to be developed.

Occitaine Mobilizes for Hydrogen

In partnership with the DGE, the DGEC, and the ADEME, the General Secretariat for Investment (SGPI) – which manages the Programme des Investissements d’Avenir (Future Investments Programme) under the supervision of the Prime Minister – launched a Call for Expression of Interest (AMI) at the beginning of the year, which lists all industrial development projects, massive hydrogen production, and massive decarbonization projects for industrial uses and mobility. This CEI is intended to guide future support and funding schemes for the sector. It also commits the French sector to a “Major European Project of Common Interest” (IPCEI) in line with the “Green New Deal”, in which hydrogen is recognized as a strategic value chain for Europe’s ecological and energy transition.

By 15 April 2020, the first deadline of the MAI, nearly 150 applications had been received across the country. In Occitania, around 15 candidates have responded, nine of which are presented here. These regional projects represent a total investment of €460 million and the estimated creation of 3 500 direct jobs in the regions.

As of 2018, the Occitanie Region has adopted a strategy dedicated to the emergence of a regional hydrogen sector, led and piloted by the regional economic development agency AD’OCC via its HyDéO animation tool. This tool supports and promotes innovation, economic development, and hydrogen infrastructure deployment projects throughout the country. In June 2019, the Regional Council of Occitania confirms its support by voting its “Green Hydrogen Plan for Occitania”, with a budget of €150 million.
-more than the budget allocated to the hydrogen sector by the French State- over the period 2019-2030, which encourages the deployment of hydrogen-consuming solutions and supports the emergence of new solutions and new renewable hydrogen plants in the regions.

Industrial development projects

FresH2 / Robert Bosch France Rodez
The “FresH2” system is equipment for mobility and, more particularly, for the mobility of refrigerated goods semi-trailers (perishable goods, medicines, etc.). “FresH2” delivers the necessary electrical energy to the refrigeration units of the semi-trailers. A zero-emission solution that reduces noise pollution, it is offered to customers in the refrigerated road transport sector. The “FresH2” system consists of a fuel cell-powered by hydrogen tanks and power electronics that convert the direct current delivered by the cell into the alternating current required by the refrigeration unit. At the national and European levels, the “FresH2” project participates in the H2 Corridor: Spain, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, and Bosch Rodez is part of the hydrogen consortium created at the initiative of the Occitanie Region. The stated objective of this project is to start manufacturing the first series in Rodez in 2023.

HYCCO (Hydrogen Carbon Components) / HYCCO
HYCCO® has developed a new concept of a bipolar plate made of composite material. It is a key component of fuel cells and hydrogen electrolysers. The materials used simultaneously increase their service life and reduce their weight, without compromising their compactness. Certain uses, previously out of reach, are becoming accessible to hydrogen, whether for its production or its use in mobility applications, particularly heavy ones. The aim of this project is to finalize the feasibility of this technology, to make it as easy as possible to use it in a wide range of applications.

NHYFY Nexeya Hydrogen Factory / Nexeya
The aim of this project is to develop and industrialize complete, competitive and high-performance H2 systems (PAC systems + H2 storage + power electronics and EMS) in order to supply the projects and markets developed, as part of the deployment of the French hydrogen energy sector.
The ambition of this project is to become the European market leader, integrating and/or supplying all fuel cell-based electricity supply systems, (markets for energy autonomy, heavy mobility or transport containers for hydrogen logistics at 500 bars). This project proposes :
– High Storage Density Containers (HDS), enabling multimodal hydrogen logistics (road, rail, sea or river transport), developed as part of the HYVOO project,
– Expertise for the supply of energy autonomy by ENR, Green Harbour project (multi-purpose self-propelled barge whose main mission is to provide ships at berth with a 2MW power supply from “certified” green hydrogen),
– an integration of storage, battery and power management equipment to provide complete 100% French systems for heavy mobility applications.

SAFRA H2 / Safra Public Transport Equipment
SAFRA wants to increase its production capacity for hydrogen-powered electric buses, and develop a hydrogen-powered electric coach offer from 2022, with the 2024 Olympic Games in mind. SAFRA’s ambition is to have a production capacity of 1,600 vehicles, all combined, of hydrogen-powered electric buses and coaches. This project is scheduled to run from 2020 to 2030 and will generate more than 2,990 direct jobs and 1,950 indirect jobs at SAFRA suppliers (fuel cells, tanks, etc.) and manufacturers of hydrogen filling stations with electrolysers.

HYVOO / Qair Premier Element
HYVOO (Hydrogène Vert Ouest Occitanie) is contributing to the emergence of a multimodal logistics hub around a massive green hydrogen production unit in Port-La-Nouvelle. The plant, with a capacity of 500 to 3,500 t/year, supplies and distributes, via an innovative hydrogen logistics chain, hydrogen to the industrial, energy, road and river transport sectors within a 250 km radius.
In addition to stationary uses in ports (Green Harbour), heavy mobility (H2 Corridor) and river transport (HyBarge), HYVOO is accelerating the development of a High Density H2 Storage Container, opening up new prospects for freight transport by sea, river, road and rail. HYVOO is also promoting the implementation of a dynamic financial support mechanism, centred on the customer-supplier relationship, through a financial incentive based on tonnes of CO2 avoided. HYVOO thus participates in the decarbonisation of transport, hydrogen and electricity production activities: 330 kt of CO2 and 1.8 kt of Nox avoided.

Massive decarbonation projects

LP2H (Local Power to Heat) / Bulane
Bulane’s ambition is to be a pioneer in the hybridization (electric-to-heat via combustion of the hydrogen carrier) of fossil fuel combustion appliances (industrial, tertiary, collective and domestic). This project aims to “massively hybridize” burners (industrial processes and building heating) thanks to the development of an innovative electrolyzer (dyomix® Plug’In Hybrid Hydrogen), capable of creating a real energy gateway.
“cross-over” between electricity production (electrons consumed for electrolysis) and heat requirements (flame/hydrogen hybrid combustion delivered at the electrolysis outlet, carried out under optimal conditions, on site, without storage, on demand and at very low pressure).
The objective is to massively decarbonize fossil combustion appliances (industrial burners and building boilers) by electrifying them via the combustion of the hydrogen carrier.

HydrOmer / Occitania Region / Pyrenees-Mediterranean region
A dredger – a specialized vessel equipped with tools that enable it to take sediment from the seabed in order to move it – contributes to two main missions: the conservation of minimum depths in port enclosures and the reloading of beaches with sand. A ship must be equipped with sufficient on-board energy production to enable its navigation and to power the tools needed for dredging operations. The aim is to obtain the capacity to provide all the power necessary for the operation of the vessel, with two diesel generators with an efficient exhaust filtration system. In addition to this installation, a fuel cell supplied with green hydrogen will be integrated into the system, constituting the real technological challenge of this project. This energy source will reduce fossil fuel consumption and pollutant emissions.

MH2 (Montpellier Horizon Hydrogen) / 3M (Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole)
3M’s ambition, embodied in the MH2 project (Montpellier Horizon Hydrogen – winner of the ADEME AAP award at the end of 2019), consists of investing in a fleet of 51 hydrogen buses to complement the current CNG bus fleet (130 buses), in connection with the deployment of 4 new lines operated by TaM, the public transport authority for the Montpellier metropolitan area. The project foresees the commissioning of 21 H2 buses in 2023 for a total of 51 H2 buses in 2025. The hydrogen distribution station, which will power the buses, will be supplied via a 2MW electrolyser, mainly powered by 2.8MW photovoltaic electricity. This station will also be open to private use. The project partners, namely the Metropolis of Montpellier, TaM the operator of the public transport network, Hynamics and Énergies du Sud, have chosen to pool their skills to set up a complete ecosystem, based on the production and use of green hydrogen and ideally located near major roads.

H2 Corridor / Occitania Region / Pyrenees-Mediterranean Region
Corridor H2 / Occitania Region / Pyrenees-Mediterranean Region
The H2 Corridor project creates the basis for a zero-emission north-south European corridor for road transport using hydrogen energy produced from renewable sources. This first level of hydrogen station networking, targeting a dozen stations, should make it possible to :
– to recharge on – or as close as possible to – major transport routes, a fleet of refrigerated lorries using hydrogen fuel cells to power the refrigeration units,
– to lay the groundwork for the first hydrogen-powered electric trucks, as and when they become available.
The introduction of these vehicles on the European market is being measured.
The project brings together a first group of stakeholders who want to be pioneers in hydrogen-based mobility, covering the whole value chain:
– owners or dealers of strategic land areas to host distribution stations
of energy,
– investors, producers and/or distributors of renewable hydrogen,
– equipment manufacturers developing innovative hydrogen solutions for road transport and hydrogen cooling units,
– shippers and transporters, players in logistics and transport of refrigerated products on a large scale.


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