Four gigausines of electrolysers will be built in France as part of a 2.1 billion euro state aid for hydrogen

Electrolyser makers McPhy, Genvia, Elogen and John Cockerill will build new giga-factories in France after receiving millions of euros in public funding as part of a €2.1 billion state aid package (2.05 billion dollars) to make the country “the world leader in carbon”. -free hydrogen”.

The money will be split between ten French hydrogen companies, with a particular focus on electrolysis and equipping commercial fuel cell trucks (details below), revealed Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne in a speech this week.

The four electrolyzer manufacturers had previously announced plans to build giga-electrolyzer plants in the country, but none had made a final investment decision (FID). These FIDs should now be completed soon, once the financing contracts have been signed with the French public investment bank Bpifrance.

McPhy, which produces high-pressure alkaline electrolysers, said it would receive €114m in state aid, while PEM electrolyser maker Elogen revealed it would receive €86m.

Genvia – a joint venture between private companies and public authorities which plans to build a gigafactory of solid oxide electrolysers by 2025 – and the Belgian-French multi-industry manufacturer John Cockerill, which also produces alkaline electrolysers under pressure, have yet to make public comments on the funding.

The €2.1 billion state aid was approved by the European Commission in July after a total of 41 hydrogen projects across the EU were declared Important Projects of Common Interest in the framework of its so-called Hy2Tech program.

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The beneficiaries of the 2.1 billion euros will invest a total of 3.2 billion euros of private money in their projects, creating almost 5,200 direct jobs, according to the Prime Minister.

In a speech in northern France on Wednesday, Borne said the French state aims to “mobilise” 9 billion euros between 2020 and 2030 to make France “the leader in carbon-free hydrogen. “.

“We will focus primarily on two sectors: electrolysis and hydrogen equipment for heavy goods vehicles and professionals. [ie, commercial] mobility.

“For two years, our hydrogen strategy has been deployed. We started by investing in the most critical tools to reduce costs and gain our technological and energy sovereignty. I am thinking of electrolysers, fuel cells, tanks, materials. It is by mastering them that we will be able to decarbonize our economy and conquer the world markets.

She added that France had also launched pilot hydrogen projects to help decarbonise steel, chemicals, glassware and oil refining, as well as road, rail and air transport.

“As soon as we have started to lower costs… we can move on to a new stage in our strategy: the massive deployment of hydrogen, in all sectors and throughout the territory.

“These [€2.1bn of] investments are just the beginning.

Other recipients

State aid funding will also be used to build fuel cells and hydrogen tanks for vehicles, trains and other hydrogen vehicles, as well as the materials needed to produce this equipment.

The other six funding recipients are:

  • Alstomwho builds hydrogen trains;
  • Advanced chemicals and materials company Arkema;
  • auto parts supplier Forvia;
  • Hydrogen mobility subsidiary hyvia (a joint venture between the Renault group and the American manufacturer of electrolysers and fuel cells Plug Power;
  • plastic omnium, a supplier of plastics for the automotive industry; and
  • Symbiosisa joint venture between Faurecia, a subsidiary of Forvia, and the tire manufacturer Michelin, which supplies fuel cell kits for road vehicles.

Plastic Omnium is the only one of the six to have revealed the amount of its subsidy, €74 million, which will be used to produce hydrogen tanks for fuel cell vehicles.

More state grants to come

The European Commission last week unveiled a second wave of hydrogen IPCEIs, under the so-called Hy2Use program – split between infrastructure projects and industrial applications – giving member states the green light to provide additional public funding of 5, 2 billion euros.

The French government will therefore give money to Air Liquide for an unspecified project, and to MassHylia, a 40 MW solar green hydrogen project in the south of France developed by Engie and TotalEnergies.

“A dozen French projects remain in the running for a third and a fourth wave [of hydrogen IPCEIs] around production infrastructure and hydrogen mobility,” says Borne.

“We will ensure that these projects benefit from the same support conditions. No project will be left behind. »