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ENGIE backs hydrogen

ENGIE sees renewable hydrogen as key to accelerating the energy transition, and an essential component of tomorrow’s energy mix. It’s a belief that is now being translated into a massive rollout of projects marking the Group’s commitment to establishing and building this new energy industry sector.

ENGIE is convinced that the time has come for hydrogen, and is now rolling out a series of pilot projects.

Used for many years in industry, hydrogen has attracted new interest in recent years, and many see it as the missing link that will ensure the success of the energy transition and effectively combat climate change..

When produced from renewable energy sources, hydrogen enables:

  • the fuel cell storage of solar- and wind-generated energy for reconversion to electricity when renewables are not generating power. This is a key solution in current thinking about smart cities and off-grid zones;
  • the development of a more sustainable model for mobility: like electric vehicles, hydrogen-powered vehicles generate zero emissions, but unlike electric vehicles deliver a level of service equivalent to conventional gasoline-and diesel-powered vehicles, which means a fully fueled range of more than 300 miles, and a short top-up time of less than 5 minutes;
  • significant reductions in the carbon footprint of industrial users that need hydrogen for their processes. Hydrogen from gas steam reforming is intensively used in certain industrial processes, such as fertilizer manufacture, refining, steelmaking and cement production. This type of hydrogen is produced by cracking gases; a process that results in very high emissions of CO2. Encouraging the use of renewable hydrogen instead delivers a tangible and sustainable environmental benefit.

A locomotive trend backed by government

At the beginning of June this year, Nicolas Hulot presented a plan accompanied by a €100 million budgetary envelope to accelerate the development of the hydrogen sector in France. The intention of the Minister for the Ecological & Inclusive Transition is to encourage hydrogen generator installation on the grand scale, together with the introduction of a fleet of hydrogen-powered vehicles with the aim of having 5,000 utility vehicles and 200 trucks on the roads by 2023, and up to 10 times more by 2028.

Hydrogen has the potential to become one of the cornerstones of a carbon-neutral energy model. This molecule contains an enormous amount of energy, and given the extent of its properties, will become indispensable: it can be used to store electricity, power cars, recycle CO2 and make industrial processes cleaner.” Nicolas Hulot, French Minister for the Ecological & Inclusive Transition.

ENGIE has an ongoing commitment to ensuring that solar power can achieve its full potential throughout the world.

ENGIE sees the use of hydrogen (H2) in its renewable form - hydrogen produced by electrolysis of water using electricity from renewable sources - as a source of flexibility that enables storage and recovery of power generation overcapacity.

ENGIE already has a presence at every link in the hydrogen value chain, from its production using energy from renewable sources (and even natural emissions) right through to its end-user applications in mobility, industrial processes and Power-to-Gas solutions.

The beauty of hydrogen is that it has so many different uses, including energy storage, as a fuel or even in industrial processes.

Convinced of the potential offered by hydrogen, ENGIE has for many years been involved in a series of projects in conjunction with its subsidiary companies and partners.

But the challenge of hydrogen development lies in having large-scale renewable hydrogen production technologies in place, and encouraging stakeholders to invest in technologies that enable the use of renewable hydrogen.

So at the start of 2018, ENGIE set up a new global business unit dedicated solely to renewable hydrogen and headed up by Michèle Azalbert to act as a catalyst for major projects and bring together all the relevant skills and expertise within the Group as the basis for developing and offering turnkey solutions. ENGIE targets every link in the value chain, from renewable hydrogen production to storage and distribution.

Confirmed projects and achievements to date

ENGIE is currently involved in a series of projects, the majority of which are based in France, and a large number of which are already operational:

An on-site renewable hydrogen production package for industrial users (EffiH2)

An equity investment in Symbio FCell, which produces operating range extension systems for hybrid vehicles.

The contract for France’s first hydrogen bus route in the city of Pau through GNVert.

A contribution to the HyPort project to develop green hydrogen in the Occitanie region of France.

An equity stake in the Jupiter 1000 demonstrator at Fos-sur-Mer via GRTgaz and CNR, with the aim of converting energy from renewable sources into hydrogen, and using methanation to store and inject hydrogen and natural gas into the mains gas supply network.

An equity investment in France’s largest fleet of hydrogen-powered utility vehicles, and the first alternative multifuel filling station at Rungis.

A contribution alongside GRDF, ENGIE Ineo and GNVert to the GRHYD demonstrator at Dunkerque, which injects hydrogen into the natural gas network supplying a new community within the town, and supplies Hythane® (an 80% natural gas / 20% hydrogen fuel) to a VNG bus station operated by the Urban Community of Dunkerque.

Coordination of the MethyCentre project, the first Power-to-Gas project coupled with methanisation in France, via Storengy, an ENGIE company

Stronger together

ENGIE is also an active founder member of the Hydrogen Council initiative launched at Davos in 2017. Its twenty corporate members have taken the decision to intensify their investment in the development and marketing of hydrogen and fuel cells, and to encourage decision-makers to provide more support for the role of hydrogen in the future energy mix through the introduction of appropriate public policies and programs.

ENGIE is convinced of the major role renewable hydrogen has to play in tomorrow’s low-carbon, decentralized and digitalized energy world. The energy revolution seen in the world of renewables over the last decade is tangible proof of that belief.

Did you know?

According to the Hydrogen Council, between 10 and 15 million cars and 500,000 trucks worldwide could be running on hydrogen by 2030.

Throughout the month of June, we invite you to find out more about hydrogen, its potential and the challenges involved in its development. You can find our series of articles and interviews in a hydrogen special report.

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