France’s recovery money fuels a not-so-green hydrogen hype

France will invest €2 billion of its recovery money on hydrogen. But with renewables production lagging behind, where would hydrogen actually come from?

In a nutshell

  • An excessive focus on hydrogen, with no green strings attached
  • A lack of investments in renewable energy sources
  • The risk of maintaining gas and nuclear capacity


The French draft recovery plan dedicates a staggering €2 billion of funding on the development of hydrogen. This could be encouraging for the development of a renewable hydrogen industry in France, if only the Plan mentioned that hydrogen would be produced by renewable sources.

However, France is currently falling short on its renewable energy targets. But truly sustainable and climate friendly hydrogen needs to be produced with renewable electricity. The Plan does not include any financial support to ramp up renewables development. Hence, a legitimate doubt arises: where would hydrogen actually come from?

Unfortunately, the Recovery remains undetermined on whether it will support only renewable hydrogen or also other forms of non-renewable hydrogen, produced from gas and other fossil fuels (which today represent the main sources for hydrogen) or nuclear electricity.

Should the Plan remain as it is, this ambiguity can leave space for the Government to justify an increase of capacity from the nuclear sector. It would be a harmful threat for the environment, and a missed opportunity to decarbonise France’s energy mix.


I4CE (2020). Relance: comment financer l’Action climat

World Future Council (2021). Renewables in the post COVID-19 recovery package of France

Réseau Action Climat (2021). Un plan de relance vert pâle