A French consortium has launched a national study to analyze the potential of hydrogen and fuel cell electric vehicles. Twenty partner members in the "Mobility Hydrogen France" group think that a hydrogen refueling infrastructure could increase deployment of electric vehicles in Europe and strengthen renewable energy production in France. The study will also look at whether this plan for a private and public infrastructure deployed between 2015 and 2030 could be economically competitive and cost effective.

The group was organized by the French Association for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells and the government's Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy. The strategy is to formulate coordinated deployment scenarios for fuel cell vehicles and refueling stations and to make the case for the economic benefits of going this route. Their study will be published in late 2013.

Two European hydrogen initiatives are guiding the French consortium.

Two European hydrogen initiatives are guiding the French consortium – the "H2 Mobility" initiatives in Germany and the UK and the European Union's Hydrogen for Transport Infrastructure project. There is also a draft directive working through the European Parliament and European Council that promotes the development of alternative fuels, including electricity and hydrogen.

Representatives of ITM Power, a partner in the consortium, say the project complements the battery-based electric vehicle solution in France that is aimed at reducing CO2 and pollutant emissions and lowering noise on roads. Hydrogen infrastructure could also be an alternative energy source that helps ween France off its dependency on controversial nuclear power.
Hydrogen for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles in France

Launch of a national study
Hydrogen and fuel cells could increase the potential for the deployment of electric vehicles in Europe, whilst strengthening renewable energy production capacities in regions of France. This is the shared vision of the twenty partner members of the "Mobility Hydrogen France" consortium, who have combined forces and expertise to produce an economically competitive and supported deployment plan for a private and public hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in France between 2015 and 2030, including an analysis of cost-effectiveness.

Regional, national and international, private and public stakeholders were brought together by the French Association for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells ("AFHyPaC") and supported by the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, to share their knowledge and expertise in order to develop coordinated deployment scenarios for vehicles and hydrogen stations, and to emphasise the clear benefits and costs of this transition. The results will be published in late 2013.

The French approach follows on from the "H2 Mobility" initiatives in Germany and Great Britain, amongst others, and is co-funded by the stakeholders themselves and the European Union within the HIT (Hydrogen for Transport Infrastructure) framework project. The consortium has been formed in parallel to a draft European Directive to promote the development of alternative fuels such as electricity and hydrogen, which is currently being considered by the European Parliament and the European Council.

In the context of growing urbanisation, electric vehicles, whether Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) or Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV), for personal, utility or for public use, represent an attractive and durable solution that allows the reduction to zero of CO2 and pollutant particle emissions, and significantly lowers noise from transport. For high power vehicles or for those making long journeys, the hydrogen and fuel cell solution complements the battery-based only solution that is currently being deployed in France.

If we want to achieve a transition to new forms of energy, especially in the area of mobility, we must focus on tomorrow's technologies. Hydrogen can revolutionise energy storage as well as transportation. This study fully contributes to the national debate on energy transition. We must accelerate the experiments in this area, the establishment of an appropriate regulatory framework, and develop viable business models. The initiative of the companies that have joined the "Mobility Hydrogen France" consortium will help to contribute, through its prospective study, to the Government's efforts to develop a coherent national strategy for the development of hydrogen use.

The "Hydrogen Mobility France" initiative currently includes the following partners: Air Liquide, Alphéa Hydrogène, AREVA, CEA, CETH2, EDF, GDF SUEZ, GRTgaz, IFPEN, INEVA-CNRT, Intelligent Energy, ITM Power, Linde, Michelin, McPhy Energy, Pole Vehicle of the Future, PHyRENEES, Solvay, Symbio FCell, Tenerrdis, WH2, with the participation of experts from FCH-JU, ADEME, the CGSP (French Prime Minister Policy Planning Agency) and DGEC (Energy and Climate General Directorate). To join the consortium, contact AFHYPAC.

Hydrogen as an energy carrier at a regional level
Hydrogen can be produced, stored, transported and used in many ways: To power or recharge mobile devices, to power remote locations, to propel vehicles or electric boats, to store intermittent electricity, to increase the production of biofuels and to reduce the carbon footprint of natural gas in networks.

Implementation of hydrogen generation units at a regional level, whether producing hydrogen via electricity or natural gas, will play a key role in helping to evolve France's energy infrastructure, bringing more flexibility to match the country's needs.

Several French companies have developed expertise and products. Dozens of prototype products are currently operating in France under real-world conditions. They were developed through public-private projects supported by ADEME, OSEO, the clusters and regional funds. Industrializing these technologies and making them accessible to all is the challenge for the years ahead.

For more information: www.afhypac.org http://www.rhone-alpes.developpement-durable.gouv.fr/piles-a-hydrogene-une-filie re-d-a3007.html

Commenting on the announcement, ITM Power CEO, Dr. Graham Cooley, said: "We are very pleased to be participating in the Mobilité Hydrogène France project as a founding member. It is good to see France, a significant EU member state, taking hydrogen and fuel cells so seriously as part of its renewable energy campaign and we look forward to the development of this exciting project."

ITM Power Chairman, Professor Roger Putnam CBE, added: "We are delighted that France has joined the strong EU drive towards hydrogen mobility, now including Germany, the UK, Denmark and France. ITM Power is embedded in all of these countries."