Hydrogen has a key role to play in the energy mix of the future and is, along with biomethane, at the heart of the clean transport revolution. Air Liquide is committed to the energy transition and is currently strengthening its lead in these growth markets by developing large-scale projects and strategic partnerships.
The health crisis has acted as a trigger. Faced with the climate emergency, it is time to switch from awareness raising to action. The importance given to the energy transition in the economic recovery plans of several countries underlines this shift. And in particular the interest in hydrogen in response to transportation challenges (16% of global CO2 emissions(1)). Countries such as China, Japan and the United States, already launched ambitious policies several years ago to increase the number of hydrogen-powered vehicles and have invested accordingly. In Europe, the Clean Hydrogen Alliance, founded by the European Commission, is promoting this energy carrier to reach carbon neutrality by 2050(2). The EU has a dedicated strategy to become a global hydrogen player by the end of the decade. Some of its Member States have allocated budgets in the order of several billion euros to develop the sector, such as France, which will invest 7.2 billion euros by 2030. “The large investments that have been put on the table will facilitate a shift in scale and help reinvent new growth models. We have reached the dawn of a systemic change in which hydrogen and biomethane will play a key role, in particular in terms of transport, to limit our dependency on oil,” explains Erwin Penfornis, Vice President of the Hydrogen Energy world business unit at Air Liquide. This represents major opportunities for the Group which, for several years, has been driving an active growth strategy based on hydrogen energy and the valorization of biogas in biomethane.
Over the past 50 years, Air Liquide has developed unique knowhow in the management of the entire hydrogen value chain (production, storage, distribution and the development of new usages). This molecule can now be produced using renewable energy sources, stored long term and then re-transformed into electricity, thus compensating for the intermittent nature of these same energy sources. The Group firmly believes that hydrogen is a key driver to make the switch to a low-carbon society. Thanks to this molecule, hydrogen-powered cars, buses, trucks, trains and even boats are not only quiet but do not generate CO2 emissions or other pollutants when running.
Since 2020, the Group has stepped up its investment to promote hydrogen mobility.
“In Canada, we have commissioned the world’s largest membrane-based electrolyzer for the production of low-carbon hydrogen for the North American mobility market in particular,” adds Erwin Penfornis. “In France, we recently announced the acquisition by Air Liquide, of a stake in the capital of H2V Normandy(3) with a view to build an electrolyzer complex for the largescale production of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen. This is an ambitious project to contribute to the decarbonization of the local industry and mobility markets.”
In addition to these strategic investments aimed at increasing low-carbon hydrogen production capacity, the Group is also working on scaling up the distribution networks.
(1) Source: Our World in Data (ourworldindata.org/emissions-by-sector).
(2) Objective stated by the European Commission in November 2018 in its “A clean planet for all” strategy.
(3) Subsidiary of H2V Product Group, industrial company producing carbon-free hydrogen, based on water electrolysis using renewable energy.