Total, Engie plan French hydrogen project powered by more than 100MW of solar

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Image: Engie.

Total and Engie have signed an agreement to develop and operate what they say will be France’s largest green hydrogen facility.

Located at a Total biorefinery in the southern region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and powered by more than 100MW of solar projects, the 40MW electrolyser is expected to produce 5 tonnes of green hydrogen per day.

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The project, dubbed Masshylia, has already applied for subsidies from both French and European authorities, as the partners aim to begin construction of the facility in 2022, following the completion of an advanced engineering study, with a view to starting production in 2024.

The companies said the installation will feature an “innovative management solution” for the production and storage of hydrogen to manage the intermittent production of solar and the biorefinery's need for continuous hydrogen supply. This includes optimising the integration of several PV plants supplying the electrolyser to minimise energy losses and limit congestion. It will also feature large-scale hydrogen storage to balance intermittent electricity production and continuous hydrogen consumption.

Beyond the first phase, new renewable projects may be developed by the partners for the electrolyser, which has the capacity to produce up to 15 tonnes of green hydrogen per day.

Philippe Sauquet, president gas, renewables and power at Total, said the facility is an internationally reproducible project. “Innovation and sustainability are at the heart of this joint project. As demonstrated by our commitment to the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, we believe in the future of renewable hydrogen, and we are working with our partner Engie to make it happen.”

For Engie, the news comes days after plans were revealed for the 1GW Horizeo solar project, which will be developed in France in collaboration with Neoen and feature a 10MW electrolyser for green hydrogen generation and 40MW of energy storage.

As it aims to reach an electrolysis capacity of 6.5GW by 2030, France included a commitment to invest €7 billion in green hydrogen production by 2030 in its coronavirus recovery package. The three priorities of the country's hydrogen strategy include decarbonisation of industry, support for research and innovation, and developing hydrogen-powered heavy transport.

To ensure the effective implementation of the strategy, France’s government earlier this week announced the formation of a National Hydrogen Council, which includes executives from both Total and Engie.

Recent analysis from IHS Markit revealed that green hydrogen production costs are down 40% since 2015 and are expected to fall by a further 40% by 2025. The research firm expects annual global investments in renewable hydrogen to exceed US$1 billion by 2023.

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