HomeIndustry SectorsBusiness and marketsFirst industrial level hydrogen production kicks off in France

First industrial level hydrogen production kicks off in France

French renewable energy company Lhyfe has started producing industrial quantities of hydrogen from an electrolyser directly powered by wind turbines.

Its first production site is situated a few metres from the ocean in Port-du-Bec in Bouin, a commune in the Vendée department in the Pays de la Loire region in western France.  Lhyfe secured €50 million in Series A financing, welcoming SWEN Capital Partners and Banque des Territoires onboard alongside its original investors.

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The site currently produces 300 kilograms a day but plans to ramp up to a tonne a day in the coming months. Lhyfe’s hydrogen will supply four refuelling stations in western France including La Roche-sur-Yon which will be operational in the next few days. Around fifty or so heavy vehicles, buses and refuse collectors will be powered by renewable green hydrogen in Loire-Atlantique, Sarth and Vendée at first, then in other French departments, under the VHyGO project (Grand Ouest Hydrogen Valley) in particular.

In addition to communities, Lhyfe will soon reveal the names of other operators that it will be supplying, in sectors such as haulage, logistics and industry.

Hydrogen to meet local energy needs

Capitalising on the know-how developed for the construction and commissioning of this first industrial site, Lhyfe is duplicating this site and, in parallel, deploying facilities with larger-scale production capacity to meet local needs (they will require up to 100 times higher capacity in Denmark).

Lhyfe’s first R&D centre, adjacent to the production site, is dedicated primarily to optimising its production process and to offshore development work. It is already prepared to produce hydrogen at sea, through a renewable hydrogen production demonstrator that will be implemented in a few months off the coast of Loire-Atlantique. This site was co-financed by the Community of Communes of Challans-Gois, the Pays de la Loire Region and French public investment bank Bpifrance, and built jointly with local stakeholders from the Vendée department. 

Matthieu Guesné, CEO and founder of LHyfe: “A year after laying the foundation stone, we are extremely proud to be launching this site, which is symbolic of course for us, but also for what it represents for [the] energy transition. Our gratitude goes to our five initial partners, who have made this ‘mad’ project to change our energy model possible. Now we have succeeded [in] this first step, we are ready to move faster.”

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Strengthening deployment and R&D abroad  

This second €50 million fundraising round, from SWEN Capital Partners, Banque des Territoires and its original partners, will allow Lhyfe to put €30 million into strengthening its deployment and R&D teams, in France and abroad. Lhyfe currently employs 60 staff members and wants to double this figure during 2022.

The company already has teams in France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark and Portugal. These will be joined in the coming weeks by new teams in Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy.

On the R&D front, production from offshore wind turbines will be accelerated, with the implementation of the first hydrogen production demonstrator at sea, at the SEM-REV offshore pilot site, off the coast of Le Croisic from 2022, and the development of new projects.

Twenty million euros are also earmarked for the financing of Lhyfe projects. Lhyfe was launched in 2019 and already has a portfolio of 60 projects throughout Europe. There are also plans to deploy facilities in other French regions. After the announcement last year of Lhyfe’s first international projects in Denmark and more recently in Portugal, new projects are due to be announced in Italy, Germany and the UK.

Swen Capital Partners and Banque des Territoires joined Lhyfe’s five original investors: Noria, Ovive (Les Saules Group), Ouest Croissance, Océan Participations, and the semi-public company Vendée Energie.

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Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a Content Specialist for ESI Africa.