Emmanuel Macron flagged a major role for nuclear-powered hydrogen production in France’s future energy mix as he vowed to make the nation an H2 powerhouse by 2030.
The French president said linking France’s extensive nuclear fleet to electrolysers could be a “primary asset” for the country in meeting future massive domestic demand for hydrogen.
Macron’s support for nuclear hydrogen – generally referred to as ‘pink H2’ in the colour-coding that has grown up around the fast-emerging hydrogen economy – puts France at odds with neighbouring Germany, which is resolutely anti-nuclear and looking to satisfy its own future needs by importing green hydrogen made using wind and solar in Asia and Africa .
However, nuclear has also been touted by French-owned EDF as a potential power source for hydrogen electrolysis in the UK, where the government shares Macron’s resurgent enthusiasm for nuclear as a key element of the energy transition.
Supporters of pink hydrogen claim nuclear’s ability to run electrolysers uninterrupted at maximum capacity can help decarbonised H2 rapidly achieve cost parity with existing supplies, or the blue variety produced using abated fossil gas.
Like the UK, Macron also pledged to pursue so-called small modular reactor technology that companies developing it claim can provide reliable decarbonised baseload power without the variability of renewable sources such as wind and solar.
Macron’s backing for pink H2 came as he put the trio of “nuclear, hydrogen and renewable energy” at the heart of a €30bn ($35bn) industrial revival plan that also includes two electrolyser “mega-factories”.
“We must be a leader in green hydrogen by 2030,” Macron said in a speech.