Energy company Total and power company ENGIE announced an agreement to design, develop, build and operate the Masshylia project, France’s largest renewable hydrogen production site.

According to the partners, the 40 MW electrolyser will produce 5 tonnes of green hydrogen per day to meet the needs of the biofuel production process at Total’s La Mède biorefinery, avoiding 15,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. The electrolyser will be powered by renewable energy from solar farms with  total capacity of more than 100 MW. The partners stated that an innovative management solution for the production and storage of hydrogen will be implemented to manage the intermittent production of solar electricity and the biorefinery’s need for continuous hydrogen supply.

Hydrogen is viewed as one of the key building blocks of the transition to a cleaner energy future, given its ability to act both as a clean energy carrier and fuel, as well as a CO2-neutral feedstock for the production of green chemicals. Despite being the most abundant element in the universe, however, there are no pure hydrogen deposits on earth, and it must be extracted from other materials. The extraction process often creates pollutants and GHG emissions. Green hydrogen, on the other hand, uses an electrolysis process to extract hydrogen from water, using a renewable source of energy such as wind or solar, with oxygen released as a byproduct.

Construction on the project is expected to begin in 2022, following the completion of the advanced engineering study, with production from the facilities anticipated in 2024.

Philippe Sauquet, President Gas, Renewables & Power at Total, said:

“Innovation and sustainability are at the heart of this joint project. As demonstrated by our commitment to the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, we believe in the future of renewable hydrogen, and we are working with our partner ENGIE to make it happen. This renewable hydrogen production facility, combined with our expertise in solar energy, is a further step in our commitment to get to net zero by 2050. The association of two leading French energy companies will make it possible to develop the hydrogen sector and become its leaders thanks to this joint, industrial and internationally reproducible project.”

Gwenaëlle Avice-Huet, EVP in charge of renewable energies at ENGIE, said:

“The Masshylia project demonstrates the capacity of ENGIE to meet the challenges of the energy transition by developing innovative carbon neutral solutions. The partnership between ENGIE and Total, by its scale and its very ambitious integrated approach, embodies ENGIE’s renewable hydrogen development strategy to reduce our clients CO2 footprint. It also paves the way for a multi-usage renewable hydrogen hub in the near future, strongly rooted in the region and with an international outreach.”