Long white tanks, pipes and manometers, two large containers located on the outskirts of Auxerre, near the railway line. Even painted fresh, the whole thing, not much bigger than a gas station, is all in all quite ordinary. Who could believe that this industrial facility – a 1 megawatt (MW) hydrogen station – embodies the future of carbon-free energy and mobility made in France?
However, it is indeed the case. The agglomeration community of Auxerrois and Hynamics, a subsidiary of EDF, inaugurated, Wednesday, October 13, the largest electrolyser to produce and distribute hydrogen in France – the hydrogen molecule H is extracted from it.2 by passing an electric current. Capable of producing 400 kilos of hydrogen per day, the station, called “AuxHYGen”, is intended to supply energy for buses, then dump trucks, the community and, later, regional trains.
Chance of the calendar, the day before, President Emmanuel Macron had chanted, during the presentation of his France 2030 plan, his desire to produce, in France, hydrogen by electrolysis, thanks to French-style carbon-free electricity (which combines renewable and nuclear energy), to “Feed our trucks, our buses, our trains (…) “. The coincidence amuses Crescent Marault, mayor (Les Républicains) of Auxerre and president of the agglomeration community: “We organized things well. “
“Go towards carbon neutrality”
After the theory in Paris, here is the practical work in the region … And it starts with the five H buses2 bought by the agglomeration community of Auxerrois from the French manufacturer Safra. In front of the officials, one of the vehicles advances for a first filling of the pressurized tank at 350 bars. The operation, similar to that of a diesel supply, takes about ten minutes, without problem, to the satisfaction of the participants.
“There is real emotion to see a tool of this scale working for the first time, making it possible to move towards carbon neutrality”, underlines Jean-Bernard Lévy, CEO of EDF. A feeling all the more shared as the operation ticks, in addition, all the boxes of economic patriotism. The impressive electrolysis tank and the supply terminals are delivered by the Grenoble-based company McPhy. The buses are manufactured in Albi and fitted with a Symbio tricolor fuel cell, a subsidiary of Faurecia and Michelin. The future hydrogen train will be manufactured by Alstom.
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