Laurent Wauquiez and Jean-Dominique Senard, president of the region and CEO of the Michelin Group, respectively, are co-leaders of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Enterprises agency and are now partners in Hympulsion. Photo: Laurent Bernard ©
By acquiring a stake in Hympulsion, jointly created by Michelin and ENGIE, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region is investing €8 million in deploying refuelling stations and catalysts for distributing and producing decarbonised hydrogen – seen as the future for mobility.
According to a statement issued by the Conseil Régional, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes owns a 33% stake in Hympulsion, worth €8 million.
The Caisse des dépôts and Crédit Agricole are also among the shareholders of Hympulsion, based in Lyon and created on 6 November by Michelin and ENGIE. With a third of the shares, the region is the largest shareholder.
The company is aiming to install and operate twenty 100% renewable hydrogen stations to cover the whole Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, as part of the ZEV (Zero Emission Valley) project.
Hydrogen, the path towards the future of mobility
“We need to create a hydrogen highway in our region that will be unique in France. This is one of the paths that mobility will take in the future”, said Michelin CEO Jean-Dominique Senard at the end of January at the annual Medef Puy-de-Dôme event. "But this hydrogen must be carbon-free", he added, "and this is not yet the case".
Two hydrogen charging stations in Clermont-Ferrand (July 2018)
In addition to the stations, a system comprising fifteen electrolysers to produce hydrogen is also included in the ZEV project, which also aims to deploy 1000 vehicles equipped with hydrogen-powered fuel cells.
Although it has yet to make any major inroads into this field, Michelin has been actively working on fuel cell technology for several years now. In fact, since 2016, the tyre giant has been the biggest shareholder in Symbio FCell, a fuel cell pioneer which designed the first range extender for hybrid vehicles (running on electricity and hydrogen).
Michelin's partner in this company is ENGIE, which remains one of the world's leading energy companies.