France Releases Legal Framework for Renewable and Low-carbon Hydrogen

France has published an ordinance setting out the legal regime for hydrogen, aimed at fostering renewable and low-carbon hydrogen.

Under ordinance n° 2021-167, dated February 17, 2021, three different types of hydrogen are now subject to dedicated regulations: renewable, low-carbon, and carbonaceous (fossil) hydrogen.

This new regulation incentivizes renewable and low-carbon (and not fossil) hydrogen production. 

Guarantees of origin are common in French energy regulations for renewable energy or biogas, but this new ordinance creates an unprecedented guarantee of traceability for low-carbon or renewable hydrogen. It will give better information to buyers and valuable input to producers in the context of EU Directive 2018/2001 of December 11, 2018, on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources. An independent authority will manage both guarantees of origin and traceability, which should allow consistency in the management of guarantees issued by other European countries in accordance with this EU Directive.

The ordinance also provides for a support mechanism for renewable or low-carbon hydrogen production by water electrolysis. Additional remuneration and, as the case may be, investment aid will be awarded to certain projects or infrastructures after a tendering process.

As regards the injection of hydrogen into natural gas networks, transmission and distribution system operators will be responsible for ensuring the smooth running and balancing of the networks, the continuity of the natural gas transmission and delivery, and the safety of goods and persons. 

This ordinance also extends the underground storage legal framework to hydrogen (in the French Mining Code) and extends the investigation and monitoring powers of the Ministry in the electricity and gas sectors to hydrogen.

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