London — French oil company Total and utility Engie have signed a cooperation agreement to design, develop, build and operate France's largest renewable hydrogen production site near Total's La Mede biorefinery, they said Jan. 13.
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The Masshylia project at Martigues, west of Marseilles, will be powered by a 100 MW solar farm with a 40 MW electrolyzer set to produce 5 mt/day of green hydrogen to meet the needs of the biofuel production process at Total's nearby biorefinery, avoiding 15,000 mt of CO2/yr, the companies said in a joint statement.
Construction is to start next year following the completion of the advanced engineering study.
Production could start in 2024, subject to the necessary financial support and public authorizations, the partners said.
The project has already applied for subsidies from the French (AMI) and European authorities (IPCEI, Innovation Fund).
"We believe in the future of renewable hydrogen, and we are working with our partner ENGIE to make it happen," Total's head of gas, renewables and power, Philippe Sauquet, said.
Engie's deputy CEO and head of renewables, Gwenaelle Avice-Huet, said the Masshylia project "paves the way for a multi-usage renewable hydrogen hub in the near future, strongly rooted in the region and with an international outreach".
Solutions for the production and storage of hydrogen will be implemented to manage the intermittent production of solar and the biorefinery's need for continuous hydrogen supply, the two companies said.
That includes a digital piloting system, optimizing the integration of several solar farms supplying the electrolyzer to minimize energy losses and limit grid congestion and hydrogen storage,
France plans to spend some Eur7 billion ($8.4 billion) to support a decarbonized hydrogen economy with a 2030 target of 6.5 GW electrolyzer capacity, according to its national strategy presented last September.
So-called green hydrogen is produced from renewable energy, while blue hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels.