HDF Energy breaks ground on hydrogen fuel cell plant near Bordeaux

The first high-power hydrogen fuel cell factory in mass production has begun construction thanks to HDF Energy.

The plant, which has been pre-notified as an IPCEI, would provide heavy marine and rail transportation as well as electricity generation for energy networks to the French domestic and international markets. The new plant, which will be situated in Blanquefort, close to Bordeaux, on the site of the former Ford factory, will aid in the reindustrialization of France and Europe, the creation of local jobs, and the exportation of the French technology.

On February 24, 2023, the high-power fuel cell plant’s foundation stone ceremony was held at Blanquefort, close to Bordeaux, France. Damien Havard, CEO and founder of HDF Energy, Hanane El Hamraoui, VP of Industry, and local government officials were present.

A 7,000 m2 plant for HDF Energy is being constructed on a four-hectare parcel of land that was formerly the Ford factory. The building will be delivered in late 2023, at which point the company’s headquarters will move to Blanquefort.

HDF intends to initially produce 1.5 MW fuel cells when production starts in 2024 before gradually ramping up its unit capacity to 10 MW. The first mass manufacturing facility for high-power hydrogen fuel cells will be located in Blanquefort. 80 percent of production will be exported.

Over 100 direct employees will be created when the annual fuel cell production capacity reaches 100 MW in 2024. 70% of HDF’s supply chain will be established at the regional, national, and European levels. As a result, by incorporating cutting-edge technologies, the HDF Energy plant will aid in the industrial revitalization of this local monument.

The markets for heavy marine and rail mobility as well as the production of electricity for energy grids will benefit from the high-power fuel cells produced here. For projects involving big vessel propulsion and auxiliary power systems as well as hydrogen-powered freight locomotives, the Company has already formed a number of strategic collaborations.

In conjunction with this event, Teréga Solutions, Hype, and HDF Energy signed an agreement of intent to work together to develop hydrogen mobility in the Bordeaux region. In order to speed up and expand the use of heavy and light hydrogen mobility in the area, the parties to the agreement will examine the potential for establishing a joint venture with the goal of establishing green hydrogen distribution stations.

The pre-notified project as an IPCEI (Important Project of Common European Interest)

After two years of collaboration with other government agencies, the French government chose the HDF Energy project as an IPCEI in October 2022 and pre-notified the European Commission of the application. In order to advance its industrial proposal and convert the plant into a gigafactory, creating over 500 employees in this local industrial area, the Company is awaiting the Commission’s permission, which is anticipated this summer.

Also, the Regional Council of Aquitaine has been providing HDF Energy with significant financial support since 2018, which has enabled the Company to begin its industrial activities.

A plant that is environmentally friendly

The plant must be certified by BREEAM, an international standard for evaluating a building’s environmental effect in order to promote greener architecture, for both its construction and operation. Energy management, water management, trash recovery, access to sustainable transportation, and the health and well-being of plant residents will all be observed during plant operation.

Moreover, the fuel cell is a clean technology with only steam as an exhaust. With a 20-year lifespan, the company has already made provisions for future fuel cell recycling.

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