HDF Energy opened unique green hydrogen plant in France

On a former Ford site in Blanquefort, near Bordeaux, Hydrogène de France (HDF Energy) has opened the world’s first high-power fuel cell plant. HDF Energy has developed an innovative renewable electricity storage solution combining hydrogen production and fuel cells to transform it into electricity and batteries.

The site covers 7,000 m² – another 5,000m² can be added – and includes nine assembly lines. Construction took 14 months and cost 20 million euros.

The batteries that will be manufactured there could make it possible to produce hydrogen from renewable energies such as wind or solar power.  Series production is due to start in 2026. The current production capacity is 100 megawatts (MW) of batteries per year, which should rise to 1 GW/year by 2030.

For heavy rail and maritime mobility

Next year, HDF Energy, founded in 2012 and listed on the stock exchange for three years, will launch the pre-serial phase and test platform for fuel cells and then start mass production of large-caliber fuel cells (from 1.5 to 10 MW) in 2026.

These will mainly be used to produce electricity to decarbonize the heavy mobility sector: freight locomotives powered by hydrogen – a global market estimated at 100 billion dollars – and ships, which are too large to use batteries. Connected to wind or solar sources, they will also power public electricity grids, replacing old coal- or oil-fired power plants.

Projects are already underway with Captain, a subsidiary of SNCF, and ABB Marine International. Normally, 80% of the fuel cells manufactured at the plant will be exported.

The site will produce fuel cells worldwide using PEM (proton exchange membrane) technology, which is already used in light mobility, such as cars and buses. PEM fuel cells are powerful, compact, and emission-free, making them ideally suited to heavy mobility and electricity generation.

15 projects worldwide

According to founder and CEO Damien Havard, HDF Energy currently has around 15 projects underway worldwide, accounting for more than 5 billion euros of investment. Contracts are in place in Guyana (France), South Africa, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, and Cambodia, in particular.

The company aims to expand from 100 direct jobs in Blanquefort to 500 by 2030 and to source 70% of its supplies – containers, wiring and piping, electronic components, etc. – locally and across Europe.

HDF Energy has been selected by the European Commission as part of IPCEI Hy2Move, a joint funding program dedicated to hydrogen, one of the emerging sectors encouraging a shift away from fossil fuels.

For the 11 beneficiary companies, including Airbus and BMW, this means 1,4 billion euros in public funding from seven EU member states, including Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Spain. It is expected that this should unlock another 3,3 billion euros in private investments.

France aims a production target of 6 GW of hydrogen by 2030 and 10 GW by 2035.


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