Bouacida, I. (2024). The French Hydrogen Strategy: Focusing on Domestic Hydrogen Production to Decarbonise Industry and Mobility, in: Quitzow R, Zabanova Y, (eds), The Geopolitics of hydrogen: volume 1: European strategies in global perspective, Cham, Springer Nature Switzerland, in press.

This article received financial support from and was written in collaboration with RIFS. It is a prepublication of a chapter in the upcoming book The geopolitics of hydrogen: volume 1: European strategies in global perspective.


France was one of the European frontrunners in formulating policies to develop hydrogen for decarbonisation, releasing its first hydrogen plan in 2018, followed by a larger, €9-billion plan in 2020, which is to be updated in 2024, hot on the heels of plans released by the European Commission and Germany. The French strategy for hydrogen deployment focuses in particular on applications where hydrogen is key for deep decarbonisation, including refineries and the chemical industry as well as steel production, and the mobility sector. The country aims to have a head start on European and world competitors thanks to large electricity resources from the existing nuclear fleet and by building new nuclear capacity. Additionally, it relies on several existing innovation hubs specialised in hydrogen, as well as the support of many local governments involved in hydrogen development and a relatively structured hydrogen industry.

The French strategy for hydrogen includes few ambitions at the international level beyond scientific and technological cooperation within the European Union. The political priority is to develop a domestic industry sized to meet national demand, which is seen as a more secure sourcing strategy than relying on imports. This comes in contrast with the positions of France’s neighbours, notably Spain, Portugal and Germany, which are pushing to enable cross-border trade of hydrogen as early as possible. This situation has generated political tensions within the European Union and in particular in the Franco-German relationship.

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