• Total executive says subsidies necessary to grow hydrogen sector

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Philippe Sauquet, Total’s president of gas, renewables and power (and current president of the Eurogas industry body), has told S&P Global Platts that he believes that some form of subsidisation will be required to create incentives enough to launch hydrogen projects in Europe. The current price of carbon permits is too low, in Mr Sauquet’s view, to make hydrogen projects viable on their own terms, especially because the first hydrogen projects will be more expensive than subsequent ones. In his words, “we need to start to scale up projects in order to understand a bit more where we can really achieve efficiency gains and where we can really lower the cost…I think there is a clear need of subsidies for those projects”, and it is difficult to argue with his reasoning – the example of renewable energies is the nearest parallel, with subsidies allowing costs to fall over time to a level where they are now often competitive with fossil fuel-fired power generation. Demand must also be stimulated, according to Mr Sauquet, with one way of doing so adding hydrogen to natural gas supplies across the continent. Total, is “very much in favor of starting the development of hydrogen today – not waiting until we have developed a fleet of hydrogen trains and a fleet of cars. If we really want to scale up hydrogen production, we want to start the cost curve decrease and we need to unlock this demand bottleneck.” Mr Sauquet is also of the belief that Europe should look to produce green hydrogen domestically.