France authorizes searches for natural hydrogen reserves for the first time

The permit awarded concerns an area of ​​nearly 225 square kilometers in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques.



Reading time: 1 min

A hydrogen recharging station, in Antwerp (Belgium), May 28, 2021. (JASPER JACOBS / BELGA MAG)

An important source of energy for the ecological transition? The government has authorized for the first time in France a research project for so-called “white” hydrogen, a fuel naturally present in the subsoil and which could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industry and transport, according to a decree published in the Official Journal, Sunday December 3.

This “exclusive permit for exploration of native hydrogen mines, helium and related substances” will concern an area of ​​nearly 225 square km in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. It was granted to the company TBH2 Aquitaine, for a period of 5 years.

The granting of this permit means that exploration work, in particular seismic studies, can begin, explains company founder Vincent Bordmann to AFP. Drilling will only take place in two or three years, after new authorizations. Five other requests for similar projects are “at instruction”specifies the Ministry of Energy Transition.

Hydrogen white, gray, blue, green, yellow

Hydrogen is highly coveted for the decarbonization potential it offers to industries and mobility, but on condition that it itself is produced in a carbon-free manner. There are different forms of hydrogen: “white” hydrogen refers to stocks naturally present in the soil.

However, today, 95% of the hydrogen produced is “gray”, that is to say manufactured by chemical or petrochemical manufacturers via a process that emits high levels of greenhouse gases. There is also “blue”, “green” and “yellow” hydrogen, depending on whether they use gas with carbon capture, green electricity sources (wind, solar, hydroelectric) by electrolysis of water or production from nuclear electricity.

source site-29