Photo: La Mède biorefinery (Courtesy of Total)

Total, Engie team up on Green Hydrogen project

French energy pair Total and Engie have signed a cooperation agreement to design, develop, build and operate France’s largest renewable hydrogen production site.

Total's La Mède biorefinery
La Mède biorefinery (Courtesy of Total)

The Masshylia project will be set up at Châteauneuf-les-Martigues in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur South region.

Located at the heart of Total’s La Mède biorefinery and powered by solar farms with a total capacity of more than 100 MW, the 40 MW electrolyzer 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 company said in its statement on Wednesday, 13 January.

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.

The project will integrate the implementation of five innovations including:

  • a digital piloting system for the continuous supply of hydrogen with real-time management of solar electricity production,
  • optimizing the integration of several photovoltaic farms supplying the electrolyzer to minimize energy losses and limit grid congestion,
  • large-scale hydrogen storage to balance intermittent electricity production and continuous hydrogen consumption,
  • a direct current connection between a photovoltaic farm and the electrolyzer to improve the energy balance
  • enhanced industrial safety thanks to the use of 3D digital models for each component of the installation.

Beyond this first phase, new renewable farms may be developed by the partners for the electrolyzer, which has the capacity to produce up to 15 tonnes of green hydrogen per day.

The Masshylia project has been labeled as innovative and of great interest to the region by several regional institutions (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur South Region, Métropole Aix-Marseille-Provence, Capenergies competitiveness cluster).

It benefits from the support of local actors for its ability to reduce CO2 emissions and demonstrate the economic advantages of renewable hydrogen and its integration into the local ecosystem and at the European level.

The two partners aim to begin construction of the facilities in 2022, following the completion of the advanced engineering study, with a view to production in 2024, subject to the necessary financial support and public authorizations.

To this end, the project has already applied for subsidies from the French (AMI) and European authorities (IPCEI, Innovation Fund).