French company to build world’s first factory to produce hydrogen from wind

French start-up Lhyfe is about to open the world’s first wind-powered hydrogen production facility, according to a report by website Windpower Monthly.

The plan is to construct an electrolyser, which extracts hydrogen from water, powered by eight-turbines. The demonstrator plant is earmarked for Bouin, a commune 50km southwest of Nantes on France’s Atlantic coast. The site is owned by the local council, which is one of three local authorities in the Vendée region to have invested €3m in the plan.

"This is the first time an industrial-sized electrolyser will be powered with 100% renewable energy," the start-up’s founder, Matthieu Guesné, told Windpower Monthly.

As well as the production plant, the company will build an R&D centre and offices on a 4,000 sq m site. Construction is due to begin in the next few months and be completed at the beginning of 2021.

The Nantes-based company, which was founded in 2017, aims to produce hydrogen by splitting HO2 molecules and to sell it at about the same price as petrol or diesel. By 2021, the company hopes to be producing 1,000kg a day, to be delivered initially to the nearby town of La Roche-sur-Yon, where a hydrogen station will be installed to fuel buses and refuse collection vehicles. The company hopes other town in the Vendée will also adapt vehicles to use the fuel.

If the plant is successful, Lhyfe plans to offer it as a modular turnkey solution that can be powered by all forms of renewable energy.

In the future, the company intends to produce hydrogen from offshore wind projects. Guisné said: "The idea is to have small dedicated offshore wind projects, about 50km from the coast where they cannot be seen and where wind is constant."

On 16 January, Lhyfe announced that it had raised €8m from four investors: lubrication company Noria, Vendée Energie, wastewater company Ovive, development agency Ouest Croissance and finance company Océan Participations.

Hydrogen from water, known as "green" hydrogen, has a lower carbon footprint than "blue" hydrogen from natural gas or "brown" hydrogen from coal.

Image: Thirteen of Lhyfe’s 15 employees (Lhyfe)

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