Thierry Breton confirms EU support for Air Liquide’s electrolyser gigafactory in Normandy

He made sure to bring the good news on the spot and in person. Two days after the adoption by the European Commission of a second PIIEC (Important Project of European Community Interest) in favor of the development of hydrogen, Thierry Breton went to Seine-Maritime this Friday to confirm, together with Mathieu Giard, Vice President of Air Liquide, Brussels’ support for the electrolyser gigafactory that the gas group wants to build in the Port-Jérôme industrial complex.

“Green” hydrogen fuels Franco-German nuclear tensions

While the announcement is not strictly a surprise, as the file appeared to be underway, it once again demonstrates the EU’s desire to push the fires over the smallest molecule on Mendeleev’s table to avoid the effects of energy crises. and climate.

We need to prepare to be an increasingly electric continent, and hydrogen will be a key part of this transition. “, insisted the European commissioner for the internal market before an audience of elected officials and businessmen from Normandy.

If it was not possible to know the amount -still confidential- of the public aid that will be allocated to Air Liquide, we do know that the project will benefit from support ” very significant up to your ambition as slipped to The galery a group executive.

With a capacity of 200 MW, expandable to 250 MW, the plant, which is expected to enter service in 2025, will in fact be the largest in the world in its category. Demonstration, here again, of Brussels’ desire to go full throttle. The word is not too strong if we remember that Europe has set itself the goal of producing more than 10 million tons of hydrogen in its soil by 2030 and importing at least another amount from third countries.

When the EU steps on the accelerator

Of all the continents, we are the most advanced, but we must maintain this leadership, in particular to decarbonise mobility. Pique Thierry Breton. The H2Use plan adopted on Wednesday pursues precisely this goal. With an amount of 5,200 million in public funds, it authorizes member states to finance projects beyond the limits usually imposed by the legislator in the name of the risk assumed by companies.

In detail, this PIIEC will benefit 35 projects in 13 countries. All this should make it possible to mobilize around 7 billion in private funds. That’s more than 12 billion from all funds combined. ” It’s huge », greeted the commissioner in charge of the internal market. In France, these are the Air Liquide gigafactory and the project called Masshylia carried out in the South by the Engie-TotalEnergies duo. The latter aims to build a “green” hydrogen production unit to replace the “grey” H2 consumed by the La Mède biorefinery.

However, Thierry Breton can show enthusiasm, but there are still many uncertainties about these projects, starting with the price of electricity that the electrolysers need to operate.

If the price of electrons doesn’t fall, energy companies could be tempted to postpone or even end their investments. In addition, Berlin and Paris disagree on the sustainable origin of the electricity that will supply the gigafactories.

The Germans refuse to put a “green” label on H2 produced from nuclear power when the French defend it. Last but not least, There is no guarantee that the uses of hydrogen, for example in heavy mobility, will develop at the same speed as the means of production. Atos’s former boss also admits it lip service. ” Our goal is to go fast, but we are well aware that these are still bets. “.CQFD.