French EDF to set up hydrogen branch for 40 EU projects
On Tuesday Europe’s largest electricity producer, French EDF (Electrcité de France), announced a specific branch on hydrogen production and commercialization, called ‘Hynamics’. The latter is said to aim at some 40 hydrogen projects in Europe. Both for the transport sector as for the industry.
Hynamics is owned for 100% by EDF Pulse Croissance Holding, the investment fund and incubator of the French electricity supplier. It will “install, exploit and assure the maintenance of hydrogen energy production plants by investing in the necessary infrastructure”, it states in a press release.
In the sector of road transport the new company will also invest in hydrogen service stations for fleets of heavy trucks on electricity.
The new entity is producing its hydrogen by electrolysis from water. A technique that emits few CO2 on condition that ‘green electricity’ is used. EDF likes to point at the fact that its electricity is green for a major part.
With 58 nuclear reactors in 19 nuclear plants in France, it produces 63 gigawatt this way out of a total of 125,4 GW. Besides that, EDF invests also heavily in hydropower, marine energies, wind power, solar energy, biomass and geothermal energy. It claims 95% of its electricity production is ‘de-carbonized’ this way.
It says today, about 95% of hydrogen is manufactured from fossil fuels. The process is therefore very high in CO2 emissions: to produce 1 kg of hydrogen, 10 kg of CO2 is emitted. “By replacing hydrogen produced from fossil fuels with electrolytic hydrogen, France’s total CO2 emissions would be reduced by 1%”, it states on its website.
Belgian hydrogen solar panel
The process of making hydrogen out of (very clean and desalinated) water is known to use lots of electricity and is not very energy-efficient. New production methods are envisioned, though. Like a very promising technique developed by a team at the Belgian KULeuven university.
The team around professor Johan Martens has developed a special solar panel which produces directly hydrogen (and oxygen) with energy from the sun. The panel (1,6 m2) is now able to turn 15% of the solar energy into hydrogen and that’s a world record, they claim.