“This is a world first,” says Matthieu Guesné, head of Lhyfe. Already a pioneer in the field of supplying green hydrogen, that is, produced without the use of fossil fuels, the Nantes start-up inaugurated this Thursday, in Saint Nazariusits first floating platform capable of producing hydrogen in the open sea. Inserted in a robust circular barge, the device consists of pumping water, desalinating it, purifying it, separating its elements thanks to a electrolyserthen to collect the hydrogen, this ultralight gas has the advantage that “it does not emit C02 once it is used”.
In the spring of 2023, when “weather conditions are more favourable”, the platform will be located off Le Croisic, 20 km from the coast, on the Sem-Rev test site dedicated to marine renewable energies and managed by Central School of Nantes. A choice that owes nothing to chance since there has been a floating wind turbine there for four years, the only one in France, known as Floatgen. The Lhyfe unit will be connected to it to supply electricity to your equipment. Production capacity: 400 kg of hydrogen per day. A volume that can be transported to land by pipeline.
“The goal is to deploy massively”
“The advantage of offshore wind power is that the wind potential is much greater than on land,” explains Antoine Hamon, deputy director of Lhyfe. And we are also interested in going directly to produce hydrogen as close as possible to these wind turbines. Reduce electrical energy losses, reduce electrical connection costs [l’acheminement du gaz coûte bien moins cher que celui de l’électricité], to avoid the problem of land that arises when you want to create a productive unit on land. »
At this time, the Lhyfe floating plant, which will have cost 6 million euros, is only intended to be a demonstrator to carry out “final tests in real conditions”, in particular that of resistance to strong waves, and “demonstrate to all those involved that it’s possible”. But, in the medium term, Lhyfe points to a “rapid” development in French and, above all, foreign wind sites. “The objective is to deploy on a massive scale, with much more powerful platforms, capable of producing 50 tons per day,” proclaims Thomas Créach, technical director of Lhyfe, which aims at global off-shore production of 3 GW by 2030-2035.
On dry land, Lhyfe has already had his own own green hydrogen plant in Bouin (Vendée) producing 300 kg per day. It works with water extracted from the sea and electricity from the nearby wind farm. Its clients are manufacturers, logistics operators and some local authorities. “Production is reliable, it is under control. We know how to do it”, insists Thomas Créach. Lhyfe expects to open around 10 similar sites in Europe by 2024.