France did not only surprise the world with the election of Macron as President, there was more news from France, that also could change the chemical landscape. In June a subsidiary of Samfi Invest announced plans for a large scale production of “green” hydrogen. Instead of the common steam reforming of natural gas, this production starts with the electrolysis of water, resulting in hydrogen and oxygen.
This process requires a lot of electricity (500 MW) but if wind energy and/or solar energy is used it would mean that no additional CO2 will be produced and emitted. The second step is to use CO2 to produce methane (SNG) and mix it with nitrogen, from next door neighbor Air Liquide and the gas is ready to be fed into the gas grid. By using the gas the CO2 will be emitted again.
Another option is to use the “green “ hydrogen as a chemical building block or as car fuel. What remains to be seen is the feasibility of this production method, not only because the wind is intermittent and therefore storage capacity with high pressure is needed to secure constant use of the hydrogen, but also because of the competitiveness of the hydrogen in the market.
What this development, without any question, proves is that the search for cleaner production of chemical building blocks is becoming quite serious and France has the courage again to lead the pack.
These developments also prove that Europe is the frontrunner in trying to maintain our standard of living and avoiding climate change at the same time. The old continent still has a vivid mind.