It is the structuring project that ticks many boxes at once: that of energy transition, sovereignty, reindustrialization and employment, ultimately resulting in 3,000 directly and indirectly related jobs.
And it is a project that – if it relies on the decarbonisation capacity of hydrogen – keeps its innovation not so much in technology but in its business model, as explained by the CEO France of Inno Energy, Karine Vernier, at the head of the consortium . Inno Energy, which is very interested in hydrogen as a decarbonisation solution and has already invested in H2 Green Steal, a project to decarbonise the steel production value chain from hydrogen, based in Sweden and born in 2021. An initiative that can be reproduced in France and finally discusses what has already happened in the world of batteries between Northvolt – also deployed in Sweden – and Verkor, based in Grenoble. ” We know that the market potential is there, that there is a huge demand for carbon-free steel in Europe, and more generally, around the world and that is why we have tried to repeat the Swedish initiative » explains Karine Vernier. ” Based on this, we conducted a reflection to determine which actors could provide skills on the different links of the value chain, from upstream to downstream, from raw materials to the final product and by using the skills that everyone can contribute After meeting companies in Europe and even beyond European borders, it eventually became a consortium that brought together – in addition to Inno Energy – Engie New Ventures, Forvia, Plug, Primetals Technologies and Idec.
RH and if it allows, the first two stones deployed during the summer
The consortium established and the official announcement made, it is now operational. Because, as Karine Vernier points out, we need to act quickly, planning to set up a factory building by 2024 for a start of production in 2027. Suffice it to say that the summer will not stop. In particular, it will be used to launch the major hiring phase, with 50 positions being considered within six months, for ” then quickly increase to 100 people », Karine Vernier announces. For example, the first job descriptions will be published during the summer and the first recruitments, mainly local, will be made. ” The HR topic is crucial to meet our challenges. We need to recruit quickly.” The summer will also see the arrival of the new CEO of GravitHy, Karine Vernier, as CEO Inno Energy, a sort of interim. A new CEO who we don’t know much about, except that he is a steel professional and his identity will be revealed in September.
For the time being, it is also the agreement and permit phase, this crucial phase that combines high-quality consultation with institutions and the application for the necessary connections. Then it is time for the study phase, the pre-engineering, the pre-feasibility of construction for the pre-investment phase in the first half of 2024, which should follow the actual construction and the start of production in 2027. the ” schedule is ambitious “, it is no less known,” we’ve seen the launch of a company like this before. We know it’s possible “, emphasizes Karine Vernier. It is also necessary to enter into more sophisticated discussions with the possible investors, rather European, but also there Karine Vernier does not prohibit anything. ” We will look on a case by case basis, nothing is closed today. An investor must have meaning with regard to the project so that, in addition to the money, a strategic vision is aligned “.
The DRI, the specificity of GravitHy
Therefore, France – and Fos-sur-mer – will have a plant by 2027 for the production of DRI (pre-reduced iron ore), which will be marketed locally as a raw material for green steel, and for exports will be sold in 2027 in the form of HBI, or briquettes. The presence of Forvia (ex-Faurecia) within the consortium also represents this customer side, the one that can use this carbon-free raw material. ” We need to know in the cost scale what the importance of the product we are going to offer will be. This is what Forvia brings besides the importance of embodying the clientele », Details Karine Vernier.
Potential customers invited to already share their concrete appetite. ” It’s not too early to show interest. These first clients that would position themselves is also a way to show investors that the project is whetting appetite. Every technical step will reassure on the ability to deliver. And every commercial step on the credibility of the project as a delivered product “.
A production planned to deliver 2 million tons of BRI per year is enough produce 2 million light vehicles per year with carbon-free steel says Karine Vernier. A big production – ” we’re going to a giant factory ” – but who ” will not saturate the market “. With other projects also positioned on hydrogen – we are thinking, for example, of Masshylia, deployed by TotalEnergies and Engie in La Mède – there is no competition, on the contrary, rather a need for collaboration, dialogue and sharing. ” This project will stimulate the hydrogen market in that it will generate activity for subcontractors, equipment manufacturers… In general, it will lower prices and increase the level of industrialization. This will get the entire hydrogen sector going. It is in the interest of all projects to enter into dialogue with each other. It’s not because there are multiple projects in the area that it will cover all hydrogen needs, so we have to work together, we have to exchange. It is interesting to have this ecosystem in the area, for companies it diversifies potential customers », analyzes Karine Vernier.
FOS at sea, ” important logistics hub »
Voluntarist on green steel, will GravitHy partner with ArcelorMittal? ” We discuss with ArcelorMittal, it could be a potential customer, but also not. The model is built by proposing the two solutions. GravitHy complements what ArcelorMittal does in a kind of magical Lego game “.
The choice for Fos-sur-mer has more to do with the multiple logistics capacity that the Grand Port Maritime offers. Both the Mediterranean coast, the possibility to switch to the Atlantic Ocean, to go through the rivers to the north of Europe, to deliver anywhere in France by relying on the rail. ” Fos is an important logistics hub. It seemed to us the ideal place to set up a factory of this nature “. What validates the strategy of the GPMM. And doable for an entire territory, local, regional and hexagonal. Or however you are on the European chessboard of an energy transition that wants and has to be faster and faster.