Hydrogen: unprecedented interregional cooperation initiative launched at HyVolution

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The international exhibition dedicated to hydrogen, HyVolution, took place in Paris from the 30th of January to the 1st of February. Three French regions, including Atlantic France, announced a large-scale cooperation agreement in order to boost the development of the hydrogen industry.

Business Solutions Atlantic France was recently at the HyVolution event for professionals. 10 regional companies were exhibitors in the regional pavilion, and around ten more were at the show, each with their own booth. 

With huge green hydrogen production projects underway, Atlantic France aims to become a leading low-carbon energy hub connected to the European market, and the participants represented a full cross-section of this growing industry:

  • Production: major players like Lhyfe and Hynamics stand out, with Hynamics showcasing its Take Kair e-kerosene production project.
  • Infrastructure and distribution: Atlantic France has long-standing expertise in gas trading and transport around the port of Nantes Saint-Nazaire and the GRTgaz and GRDF networks, with major developments planned (Atlanthy’c project). Seven hydrogen refueling stations are already in operation and the network is expanding rapidly.
  • Uses:
    • Maritime: Europe Technologies and the Pôle Mer Bretagne Atlantique presented concrete projects for the decarbonisation of ships. The innovative startup Seco Marine (part of the Fétis group) was also present.
    • Terrestrial mobility: a strong focus on off-road vehicles with the Manitou Group and integrators such as Dintec and e-Néo, but also on-road vehicles with the early deployment of bus fleets in La Roche-sur-Yon for example. The Atinéa innovation centre, dedicated to new energies and sustainable mobility, is going to be home to the RATP Dev training and maintenance centre for hydrogen buses, and it could also be used for setting up new companies.
    • Aeronautics: Airbus presented its cutting-edge cryogenic tank programme at the Nantes ZEROe centre with its partners Cetim and IRT Jules Verne.
  • Industrial suppliers: for example, Artis, Kohler Power Systems EMEA, and Sumca are supported by dynamic business clusters such as Neopolia.
  • Leading R&D&I capabilities:
    • Highly specialised research laboratories at the University of Nantes, the University of Le Mans, and CNRS.
    • Exceptional testing facilities, with Cetim’s national hydrogen expertise centre HyMEET, the CEA Tech with its climatic chamber, the Technocampuses, the SEM-Rev sea test centre, etc.
  • Innovative startups: for instance, Farwind Energy and Athena Research and Innovation.
  • Training centres: Energy Formation (whose national hydrogen centre is located in Nantes), the Cétim, and the future Energy Campus (which is supported by the Atlantic France regional council).

Creating the Greater Western Hydrogen Basin

During HyVolution, a major announcement was made by officials: the regions of Brittany, Normandy, and Atlantic France are creating the Greater Western Hydrogen Basin. The aim is to give visibility to industrials and investors and establish collaborations to gain a foothold in European and global markets.

These three regions already have a number of assets regarding the hydrogen industry: a strong potential for maritime applications, logistics hubs linking ports to the hinterland, and interactions with future European routes, infrastructure, and the other major hydrogen valleys already in place in Europe.

A public-private consortium will therefore be set up with the aim of establishing a financial engineering structure by 2024, bringing together private investors, regional and national public funds, and European loan and grant instruments dedicated to renewable hydrogen.

Now is the time to step up our game, in terms of both production and uses. We need to move on from a logic of seed funding for local projects to a larger scale that will enable us to win major markets and consolidate a Greater Western industry in the years to come.

Joint statement by Loïg Chesnais-Girard, President of the Brittany Region, Aline Louisy-Louis, Vice-President of the Normandy Region, and Roland Marion, Atlantic France Regional Councillor for Energy Transition.

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