France seeks to decarbonise its energy system with the help of hydrogen. French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot presented a strategic roadmap for the use of hydrogen in various economic sectors.

In this way, France aims to save 10 to 12 megatons of CO2 by 2030 and 55 megatons by 2050. Hulot will support the project with funds totalling 100 million euros.

According to the strategic roadmap, 10 percent of industrially used hydrogen in France will come from renewable sources by 2023 and 20 to 40 percent by 2028. A system of traceability for hydrogen is to be established from 2020 for this purpose. In addition, the technical requirements for feeding H2 into the gas network are to be regulated. An interim report is expected this year.

Hulot is also focusing on hydrogen for mobility. By 2023, 5,000 light commercial vehicles and 200 heavy-duty vehicles (trucks, buses, ships, trains) are to be on France’s roads. This figure is to rise to 20,000-50,000 and 800-2,000 vehicles, respectively, by 2028. To achieve this objective, the refuelling infrastructure must be expanded. To this end, plans call for 100 refuelling stations to be built by 2023 (and at least 400 by 2028). As a comparison: 100 hydrogen refuelling stations are targeted to be in operation by 2019 in Germany.

For green rail transport, a parliamentary commission is to be appointed by the end of the first half of 2018 to establish how the most polluting trains can be replaced by those with clean technology. In addition, the creation of an international centre for the certification of high-pressure hydrogen components in the rail, aviation, maritime and inland waterway sectors is planned, too.

In his initiative, Hulot also quantifies the prospects for the French hydrogen economy. According to a study by consulting firm McKinsey, the industry can look forward to an annual turnover of around 8.5 billion euros in 2030, 40 billion could be achieved in 2050. The export potential is estimated to be at 6.5 billion euros by 2030. Hulot also anticipates that more than 40,000 jobs will be created in the industry by 2030 (150,000 by 2050).