“Green” hydrogen still has to lower its costs

There was no song or special cake. However, it is on an anniversary that all have made an appointment. On Wednesday September 8, the Dunkirk Convention Center (North) welcomed the audience for the eighth edition of Hydrogen Days in the Territories, a meeting place for the profession. Or one year, to the day, after the birth of the French strategy to develop hydrogen, in its carbon-free form, and therefore non-polluting: 7 billion euros promised by the State by 2030, of which already 2 billion in two years.

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The sum is high. At least as much as the expectations, everywhere in the world, around this vector of energy still at the stage of the promises. In this case, those of helping to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in areas that emit particular emissions from industry and transport. But also to create jobs by the tens of thousands and to achieve a certain energy sovereignty. Nothing less !

This public investment also suggests one thing: “green” or related hydrogen has a cost. Rather high, given the current state of technological development and resources. An obstacle to be overcome, or rather to be reduced, if this emerging sector wants to end up winning and decarbonizing the country. “This is a major challenge”, underlines Philippe Boucly, president of the industrial federation France Hydrogen.

Approximations

Because the industry is groping, and because over-the-counter is used for transactions, and therefore in the absence of standard prices, the amounts remain subject to approximations. Ademe, the Ecological Transition Agency (under state supervision), however delivered an order of magnitude. Its report, published in the summer of 2021, assesses the production cost – to which it would be a question of adding, in absolute terms, the amount for the transport from the producer to the consumer, then that for compressing this still gaseous substance. lighter than air.

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Producing carbon-free hydrogen requires on average more than 4 euros per kilogram. The price depends in part on the price of electricity, from renewable energies or nuclear power. Although the technique, electrolysis, has been known for a long time, it is still experimental. According to the data transmitted to World, France has just a production capacity of 5 megawatts of electrolysers. Almost nothing, so to speak, compared to the 6,500 megawatts announced, and hoped for, by the end of the decade.

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