There is no specific law on hydrogen in France at present. Hydrogen is mentioned in general laws on energy and mobility. For example, the Mobility Orientation Law No 2019-1428 of 24 December 2019 allows cities to create hydrogen refuelling infrastructures for vehicles and boats. For the time being, these small pieces of legislation mainly concerns hydrogen mobility.
Policy and Governmental programmes
The Government presented its Hydrogen Plan, “National strategy for the development of carbon-free hydrogen in France” in September 2020, partly influenced by the global COVID-19 “Recovery Plan”. This is discussed in more detail, below.
There is no dedicated Law about hydrogen in the French legal framework. Thus, the stakeholders have to the follow general rules arising from the France set of energy laws and regulations.
However, the most recent laws on energy and mobility encourage the development of hydrogen, in particular by giving new competencies to municipalities in order to install hydrogen recharging stations on their territory.
There are no specific regulations applicable to hydrogen producers. Production and recharging facilities are subject to regulations specific to classified facilities for the protection of environment (known under the French acronym “ICPE”).
Connection and distribution
According to the Energy Code, it is mandatory to conclude a contract for being connected to the public gas network either for a generation facility, or a consumption site, and the distribution network operator prior informs the user of the conditions relating to the connection of his installation. The activity of the DSOs is regulated and controlled by the regulator. GRDF, a subsidiary of ENGIE, is by far the main DSO.
The Mobility Orientation Act of 24 December 2019 mainly provides a framework for refuelling stations for private vehicles, buses, and ships.
Subsidies are awarded by a public body (ADEME) in response to tenders for projects. To date, the regulator has not launched yet any call for tenders to develop hydrogen projects; this option would allow operators to benefit from funding by the taxpayer.
Hydrogen production and fuelling station construction projects are subject to the regulations for environmentally classified facilities (ICPE).
Secondary legislation and other legal documents
The Multiannual Energy Programme (PPE) determines the objectives for the development of hydrogen until 2028.
France's future hydrogen plan should make it possible to draw up a financing plan to develop hydrogen in the coming years.
Regulation of hazardous activities
The main laws here are: the Environmental Code (with inter alia the regulation on the environmentally classified installations, or ICPE), the General Code of Local Authorities (which for instance gives powers to local authorities to build and operate supply stations) and, more broadly, the Law on Energy Transition of 17 August 2015 and the Mobility Orientation Law of 24 December 2019.
Transport, import and export of hydrogen
To date, there are no specific regulations for the transport, import and export of hydrogen.