Country: France

Document type: National Strategy

Title: National Strategy for the Development of Decarbonised and Renewable Hydrogen in France (Press kit – provisional draft English language version)

Released: September 2020

Summary Points:

  • The Strategy (announced on 8 September 2020) is complementary to the €100 billion special economic stimulus recovery package (including €30 billion for the ecological transition) presented on 3 September 2020 by the French Government
  • The Strategy commits €7 billion of public investment to develop decarbonised hydrogen between 2020-2030 (including €2 billion from the recovery package), with €3.4 billion allocated over the period 2020-2023
  • The Strategy follows the release in June 2018 of the Hydrogen Deployment Plan for the Energy Transition.
  • The €7 billion is to be invested in line with three priorities:
    • Priority 1: Decarbonising industry by developing a French electrolysis sector – the Strategy includes a target of 6.5 GW of installed electrolyser capacity by 2030 (through development of high-capacity projects and move to industrial-scale for profitability) and aims to replace fossil fuel based industrial processes in particular in refining /chemicals with renewable hydrogen
    • Priority 2: Developing the use of decarbonised hydrogen for heavy-duty mobility – focus on developing a hydrogen-powered heavy-duty mobility offer and developing large-scale regional projects that encourages the pooling of uses
    • Priority 3: Supporting research, innovation and skills development – includes evaluation of hydrogen as a means to decarbonisation the gas sector and research into the future generation of hydrogen uses (e.g., decarbonised ships and aircraft, new uses in industry such as in steel production)
  • The Strategy includes a ‘Summary of upcoming calls for proposals’:
    • From 2020: two call for proposals (CFP) – one for ‘Regional hydrogen hubs’ and one for ‘Technological building blocks and demonstrators’, with the two CFPs allocated €625 million in total until 2023
    • From 2021: two major actions are identified – (1) Construction of an important Project of Common European Interest (PIIEC/IPCEI) on hydrogen, with the French Government setting aside an allocation of €1.5 billion for this action, and (2) Call for Expressions of Interest under the Priority Research Programme “Hydrogen Applications” operated by the French National Research Agency ANR, with €65 million allocated to this action.
    • From 2022: Call for tenders for the production of renewable hydrogen under identified support mechanisms.

Draft Updated National Hydrogen Strategy

The European Commission, in its December 2023 Working Document ‘Assessment of the draft updated National Energy and Climate Plan [NECP] of France’, notes that the updated NECP indicates that an updated hydrogen strategy would be adopted in 2023 with a target electrolyser capacity of 6.5 GW in 2030 and 10 GW by 2035. It also indicates hydrogen use in heavy industry, the establishment of a national value chain and international cooperation focusing both on technology exports and hydrogen imports. The draft updated plan includes measures to support renewable hydrogen including a new auction scheme and possible tax instruments in the transport sector and for fertilisers. It also includes a reference to the deployment of hydrogen networks, with an outline to be delivered by 2026.

Media reports on the draft update to the French national hydrogen strategy can be found here.

Supporting Programmes and Initiatives

  • In January 2021, the French Government announced the establishment of the National Hydrogen Council (which comprises hydrogen industry specialists and will work within the framework of the National Industry Council) to support implementation of the hydrogen strategy.
  • In February 2021, it is reported that the National Hydrogen Council presented initial plans for 3.2 GW of large-scale electrolysis capacity to key ministers (and which would require some €8 billion of investment, potentially benefitting by end-2021 from funding under the EU’s Important Projects of Common European Interest Program).
  • Reports indicate an initial 27 R&D projects have been selected for €212 million of funding support, €37 million coming from the French Government, with the French regions, ADEME (the French Environment & Energy Management Agency) and the EC also to provide supporting funds.  Projects include:
    • Hydrogen trains in four French regions, with electrolyser capacity to produce the hydrogen needed to power the trains.
    • Hydrogen buses
    • Hydrogen storage and fuel cell systems manufacture to equip hydrogen use by (especially) heavy vehicles and passenger cars.
    • Electrolysers to produce clean hydrogen with the objective to lower prices and to help develop the hydrogen economy.
  • In February 2021, the legislative framework to support industry development was progressed with release (and passing into law) of the draft hydrogen ordonnance (enacted under the 2019 Energy and Climate Law; the ordonnance would supplement the French Energy Code by the addition (it is reported) of a new title VIII ‘Provisions relating to hydrogen’). The ordonnance reportedly covers four key deployment aspects:
    • The taxonomy (classification/definitional basis) of hydrogen
    • The proposed government support mechanisms to support development of renewable-based/low-carbon hydrogen
    • Guarantee of origin/certification regime for renewable or low-carbon hydrogen
    • Licensing requirements for transportation of hydrogen in the natural gas grid.

The Strategy and Ordonnance complements / follows earlier releases of key documents including:

In October 2021, the French President unveiled the €30 billion ‘France 2030’ Investment Plan, aimed at fostering industrial champions and innovation. The president flagged a major role for nuclear-powered, hydrogen production in France’s future energy mix. Among the Plan’s objectives, it is reported that France would by 2030 build two mega-factories for the production of hydrogen.

In November 2021, the French President was reported that France would provide an additional €1.9 billion in funds to support the development of zero carbon and green hydrogen production, bringing the total national support to around €9 billion when combined with funds announced in the National Strategy (with reporting suggesting the additional €1.9 billion in funds would come from the ‘France 2030 Investment Plan’).

In February 2022, it was reported that, as part of the ‘France 2030 Investment Plan’, €5 billion in “direct aid” would be offered for the deployment of decarbonisation solutions for heavy industry, of which €4 billion would be allocated to “innovative technologies” such as hydrogen and carbon, capture, utilisation and storage.

In September 2022, it was reported that ten French companies were to receive a total of €2.1 billion of state aid approved by the European Commission in July 2022 as part of its Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) Hy2Tech programme, of which four companies were to receive funding to support construction of electrolyser gigafactories in France.

In October 2022, it was reported that Spain, Portugal and France had agreed to build a sea-based pipeline to carry hydrogen and gas between Barcelona and Marseille (H2Med). In December 2022, it was further reported that the pipeline would be exclusively dedicated to green hydrogen, would cost around €2.5 billion, would have capacity to transport two million tonnes of hydrogen per annum, and should be completed by 2030. The report noted that the three countries would submit the project to the EC for declaration as a ’project of common interest’.

In January 2023, it was announced in a French-German declaration that the two countries would form a joint working group on hydrogen tasked to prepare conclusions and recommendations on strategic choices regarding hydrogen development (aiming for such by the end of April 2023). Also noted in the declaration was that the two countries would take the necessary steps on a European backbone for hydrogen transport across Europe, including the necessary national and transnational hydrogen infrastructures and, in particular, the extension and connexion of existing and planned infrastructures, including extension of the H2Med pipeline to Germany in close cooperation with involved partners.

In May 2023, ADEME announced a funding package of €175 million under the ‘EcosysH2‘ (Territorial Hydrogen Ecosystems) Programme. Projects are to be evaluated as involving either the establishment and operation of new hydrogen production infrastructures (by water electrolysis or biomass pyrogasification) and new distribution infrastructures, or the extension of existing hydrogen ecosystems through the deployment of new transport uses. The call for proposals closes 29 September 2023.

In July 2023, the EC approved, under State Aid rules, a €850 million French measure to support ArcelorMittal in partially decarbonising its steel production processes at its Dunkirk facility.

In August 2023, English language reporting noted that the French Government was close to announcing a contracts-for-difference (CfD) tender programme over the period from 2024 to 2026 to support low-carbon hydrogen production for a total support value of €4 billion. This was followed in September 2023 when English language reporting noted the release of draft details for three planned tenders in the 2024-2026 period for financial support (for a combined €4 billion) to support the development of 1GW of electrolysis capacity.

In September 2023, the French Government announced an allocation of €700 million as a support mechanism for hydrogen production in 2024; the funding allocation is part of a €10 billion package for ecological planning.

In December 2023, media reports indicated that in an address the French President announced funding to explore the potential of natural hydrogen; it noted that potentially exploitable deposits were identified in the north-eastern region of Lorraine and the south-western region of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, with the French President reported as indicating that authorities had issued a natural hydrogen exploration licence for these deposits in December.

In March 2024, the the EC approved, under the State aid Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework, a €900 million French scheme to support production of (i) heat and fuels from biomass, such as synthetic gas and biochar, for use in industrial processes, and (ii) liquid fuels from biomass and renewable hydrogen, for use in industrial processes and transport.


Updated: April 2024