France launches first wind-powered hydrogen plant

A start-up has raised €8 million to build France’s first wind-powered hydrogen plant in northwest France, with plans to deploy its concept to offshore wind by 2025.

Lhyfe's hydrogen plant will be powered using turbines from a nearby onshore wind project
Lhyfe's hydrogen plant will be powered using turbines from a nearby onshore wind project

Lhyfe, a French company founded in 2017, has developed a way to produce hydrogen with electrolysis using renewable energy without being connected to the grid.

"This is the first time an industrial-sized electrolyser will be powered with 100% renewable energy," the start-up's founder Matthieu Guesné told Windpower Monthly.

Construction of the new demonstrator plant will begin in the next few months.

It will be located beside an eight-turbine onshore wind project at Bouin, 50km southwest of Nantes. The site is owned by local authorities who have also invested in Lhyfe.

Some of the turbines at the wind farm will initially be set aside to power the electrolyser.

By 2021, the company aims to be producing 300kg of hydrogen daily — gradually moving up to several tonnes — which will be delivered to the nearby town of La Roche-sur-Yon, where a hydrogen station will be installed to fuel the town's newly-converted fleet of hydrogen-powered buses and refuse collectors.

Lhyfe's model has been designed for local use and can be connected to different sources of renewable energy, which means it can be deployed easily.

The hydrogen it will produce is initially intended for transport and local industrial needs.

"We have developed an efficient and competitive turnkey industrial production solution, enabling local sourcing around our sites, which creates local jobs, income and energy independence. This is a break with the current model," said Guesné.

Over the next few years, the company hopes to be producing hydrogen from offshore wind projects.

"The idea is to have small dedicated offshore wind projects, about 50km from the coast where they cannot be seen and where wind is constant.

"This is too far for producing electricity economically but not hydrogen. We will just replicate what we do onshore, offshore," said Guesné.

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