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A future with hydrogen

modern hydrogen tank for renewable energy

14 April 2022: Mitsubishi announces its intention to collaborate with Shell to produce green hydrogen from offshore wind farms.

13 April 2022: EDF, the French energy group, announces the launch of an industrial plan dedicated to low-carbon hydrogen.

6 April 2022: ENGIE and ALSTOM sign a partnership to supply renewable hydrogen to a fuel cell system for rail freight in Europe.

5 April 2022: Bouygues Telecom announces the launch of a green hydrogen power solution, which will reduce CO2 emissions from its activities by 70%.

Not a week goes by without news about the hydrogen sector. There is a lot of buzz around hydrogen, but real projects under construction are quite rare. It is still an immature market. In Paris, an international trade fair will even be devoted to it on 11 and 12 May (Hyvolution). EQUANS will be present with a booth to connect with potential customers and partners.

"It will be one of the energies of the future" confirms Erik Groen, project director in the EQUANS Operational Excellence Department and coordinator of the Group's Hydrogen Innovation Business Club. "Experts agree that hydrogen will represent between 10% and 15% of energy consumption in the future.” According to forecasts, the global demand for hydrogen could triple by 2050.

In this context, the Group has started to explore the "hydrogen" strategy, which was discussed with the COMEX last January.

It consists first of all in setting up a collaborative approach between countries (France, UK, Belux and the Netherlands), coordinated by the Innovation & Digital team via a specific Innovation Business club.

The objective of the business club is to:

  1. achieve internal alignment between countries, and increase effectiveness;
  2. adopt philosophy of modular approach for scalability but stay unique for customers;
  3. achieve external breakthrough and thought leader position in selected product-market position.

After successful learning of the first few projects in the focus countries the team wants to scale and implement the business plan towards other business entities.

It consists also in giving priority to design, build and maintain production projects, with a capacity ranging from 1MW to 5MW to gain experience for larger scale projects on later stage. First customer segments : are industry and mobility with probably later energy networks.  "We focus on small-scale projects, but this is a deliberate choice. There are less risks, we can execute quicker, we are directly linked to the end user, there are fewer players around the table, which makes these projects less complex to manage. And we will learn more from twenty times 2.5 MW contracts than from one 50 MW contract," explains Erik Groen. The aim is to win contracts of this type within 18 months, in at least three countries.

As many other player in this new business, EQUANS is just starting but already has some interesting projects to share. In France, ERAS and AXIMA, two of the group's entities, is subcontractor of the HYFLEXPOWER consortium. The project is about the development and testing of a hydrogen turbine powered by renewable hydrogen in a recycled paper production unit. EQUANS (ERAS and AXIMA) are responsible for the engineering and the mechanical and piping part of the project.

In the UK, EQUANS is part of the consortium Net Zero North West. It has published on April 12th a new report that outlines how it will deliver on its aim to be the UKs first net zero carbon industrial cluster by 2040. Industry in the North West produces 16.7 million tonnes of CO2 every year. Hydrogen will play a central role in the region’s decarbonisation strategy, providing low carbon power and enabling fuel switching for industry.

The insights of the Hydroflex project and the Net Zero North West project will be shared on stage during Hyvolution. In the Netherlands, in the Port of Den Helder, EQUANS is  developing with partners a green hydrogen production that will be connected to a refueling station for maritime and road transport (ZepHyros NHN project). Other projects will follow soon.

Our customers are asking us more and more questions about hydrogen, especially due to recent developments of the higher gas prices. We need to help them make the right decarbonization decisions and guide them.. And if hydrogen is not the right solution for the customer we can still offer other decarbonisation solutions by the Group that’s why we are working closely with the decarbonisation business club.
Erik Groen Project director in the EQUANS Operational Excellence Department & coordinator of the Group's Hydrogen Innovation Business Club
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