A hydrogen distribution station in Le Mans, July 8, 2020 (illustration).


JF.Monier / AFP

  • Lhyfe aims to produce and distribute hydrogen produced without fossil fuels or nuclear electricity.

  • A first production plant is under construction in Vendée.

  • Hydrogen can be used to power cars, buses or trucks.

A European strategic plan on July 8, a French investment plan of 7 billion euros on September 8 and even a regional plan of 100 million euros in Pays-de-la Loire on September 25 ... Hydrogen is definitely the star of fuels for the transport of tomorrow.

A political craze that comes at the right time for Lhyfe, a Nantes start-up whose ambition is to become the “locomotive” of green hydrogen production in Europe.

Green hydrogen?

A clean gas obtained by the process of electrolysis of water, itself powered by electricity from renewable energies, such as wind turbines.

Not to be confused with "gray hydrogen", extracted from fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, fossil gas, etc.), or "low carbon hydrogen", produced by electrolysis from the electricity network, "therefore from nuclear, which does not suit us either, ”explains Matthieu Guesné, founder of Lhyfe.

The first production unit operational in May

A pioneer in the field, the Nantes-based company plans to open a dozen production units in France and Europe by 2023, then around thirty the following years.

Construction work on the first site has just started in Bouin (Vendée), near a wind farm.

Six million euros were spent to be able to produce, from May, 300 kg of hydrogen per day from seawater. “This will be a world first on an industrial scale, enthuses Matthieu Gesné.

300 kg of hydrogen, this corresponds to the consumption of 700 cars.

To achieve this you do not need to pump a lot of water since with a liter you get the same energy as with a liter of gasoline.

It's almost magical.


Laying of the first stone of the first green hydrogen production unit, September 26, 2020 in Bouin.

- Lhyfe

The hydrogen produced in Bouin will then be distributed to equipped service stations (very few today).

“You can refuel in a few minutes for a price of 70 euros.

The range is the same as a diesel vehicle.

The motor does not make noise and only rejects water.

In the medium term, other outlets can also be considered, such as buses, heavy goods vehicles or garbage trucks.

“There is an awareness of environmental issues.

We are at a tipping point where the development of hydrogen can go very quickly ”, is convinced Matthieu Guesné.

The workforce could double each year

In this perspective, Lhyfe is already considering larger production units capable of delivering up to 1 tonne of green hydrogen per day.

Even if these sites will be "highly automated, a bit like a hydroelectric dam", the start-up's workforce will obviously have to grow.

“We are around 20 now.

We will go up to 30 by the end of the year.

Then we plan to double the workforce each year, ”explains Matthieu Guesné.

As for the Pays-de-la-Loire region, it should keep a "head start" since, after Bouin in Vendée, a Lhyfe production unit could emerge in each department, with the support of the regional council.

The latter also provides, among other things, for the deployment of a line of coaches and a hydrogen TER.

“We want to make Pays de la Loire the leading hydrogen region in France,” ambitions Christelle Mor though, president (LR) of the regional council.


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