French start to the legislation on hydrogen

An Ordonnance signed by the President on February 17, 2021 (Ordonnance n° 2021-167 du 17 février 2021 relative à l’hydrogène) defines the different types of hydrogen that will be subject to specific regimes, renewable, low-carbon or carbonated hydrogen.

This Ordonnance provides for two hydrogen traceability systems so that its low-carbon or renewable nature can be known and guaranteed.

Guarantees of origin and traceability will be managed by an independent body, similar to the one that already exists for guarantees of origin for renewable electricity. This system must be able to accommodate guarantees issued by other European member states in accordance with Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources.

The ordonnance also provides for the establishment of a support mechanism for renewable or low-carbon hydrogen production chains through water electrolysis. This mechanism consists of a pre-selection phase and then a competitive dialogue phase, in order to select the candidates and adjust the levels of support from which they benefit within the framework of a contract offering a remuneration supplement and, depending on the case, investment aid.

Finally, it introduces several provisions relating to the injection of hydrogen into natural gas networks. On the one hand, the draft order provides that, in the event of injection, the operators of the natural gas transmission and distribution networks must implement the necessary measures to ensure the proper functioning and balancing of the networks, the continuity of the natural gas transmission and delivery service and the safety of goods and persons. On the other hand, it is proposed to set up a system of guarantees of origin for renewable gas injected into the natural gas network, for which renewable hydrogen injected into the natural gas network would be eligible.

Finally, this order provides for two minor amendments to the legislation in force. On the one hand, an amendment to the mining code aimed at extending the legal regime applicable to underground storage to hydrogen; on the other hand, an extension of the investigation and control powers provided for by the energy code (and applicable to electricity and gas) to hydrogen.

By Olivier VIBERT


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