French developer testing 150 kW electrolyzer at 12 MW solar plant


From pv magazine France

French solar developer Corsica Sole has entered the green hydrogen market with the construction of its first renewable hydrogen production unit in Folelli, on the French island of Corsica.

“The electrolyzer will be powered only by photovoltaic electricity during peak hours,” said Jean-Gabriel Steinmetz, director of new markets for Corsica Sole, in an interview with pv magazine France.

Once the project is operational in 2025, it will be directly connected to one of the stations of the existing 12 MW Folelli solar power plant. Hensodlt Nexeya France will handle the design and integration of the energy systems.

“Like Corsica, island areas with strong renewable energy production capacity are often faced with situations where the available renewable electricity cannot be exploited and is inevitably lost,” explained Steinmetz. “Thus, since its commissioning in 2017, the solar power plant located in Folelli, one of the two largest power plants on the island, has experienced several hundred hours per year of energy losses.”

From now on, part of this excess electricity will be used to power the 150 kW electrolyzer, which is capable of producing two tons of hydrogen per year, or 40 kg per week.

“We chose this capacity for two reasons,” said Steinmetz. “The first is that we must take into account the needs which are still underdeveloped on the island.”

Corsica Sole financed the project to introduce hydrogen to users in the Bastia region for heavy maritime mobility and temporary energy applications such as generators. The company aimed to limit investment costs by avoiding oversizing its electrolyzer and storage equipment.

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The Folell’Hy device will produce two tons of green hydrogen per year, operating solely on solar power and connecting to the network only for security purposes. This setup will result in a low load factor and potentially higher production costs compared to grid or wind power. However, Corsica Sole sees value in other aspects of the project.

“This is a first step, the time to encourage the appearance of new uses and to accumulate technical and economic feedback,” said Steinmetz.

The pilot project will clarify real-time interactions with the network operator to control production units based on grid conditions. It will also explore water resource management from supply to discharge. Corsica Sole plans to scale up to larger projects, potentially supplying an electrolyzer of up to 2.5 MW with battery storage to enhance load factor and lower production costs.

“Given the energy mix of Corsica and the overseas territories, which is not 100% carbon-free, it is currently impossible to produce green hydrogen locally from the network,” said Steinmetz.

Corsica Sole claims that producing green hydrogen locally in France's non-interconnected territories remains economically viable despite slightly higher production costs, as importing it from the mainland incurs prohibitive transport expenses by boat or pipeline.

“Renewable hydrogen could promote the energy transition of island territories and be an alternative to imported fossil fuels,” said Steinmetz.

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