The Hace company is at the origin of an alternative project to produce hydrogen at sea using wave energy. A prototype in place for three years has passed full-scale tests in Nouvelle-Aquitaine. However, despite its potential, this multi-award-winning project is having serious difficulties going further.
Modular, adaptable and ecological
And 2018, the start-up Hace installed a prototype wave power machine at the foot of the Ile de Ré bridge (New Aquitaine). After seven years of research and development, this company has developed a technology that produces green hydrogen by converting the swell into electricity. Its main feature is to produce this energy thanks to small waves of low amplitude, while other projects of the kind are more interested in stronger waves.
Adaptation and modularity are the key words of the project. Indeed, the system can be installed near the coast, but also on a lake. Composed of a series of boxes assembled together, the system can be modulated to achieve the desired power, namely between 10 and 200 kW. Let us also mention the carbon footprint of the system, presented as being one of the lowest in the world (0.5g CO2 equivalent / kWh).
France does not seem to believe in this technology
Despite having received several awards, Hace is now facing a funding problem. The fundraising organized after the successful testing of the prototype does not allow us to move on to the next step. In fact, two million euros are missing to manufacture a pre-industrial demonstrator. The start-up ultimately wants to achieve a capacity of 500 MW with an 80% load factor capable of producing 3.5 million MWh.
“Wave energy is undeniably a sector of the future. Its potential is enormous, undoubtedly much greater than off-shore wind power, but it has barely left the laboratory and has not yet found its economic model.“, Explained Marc Lafosse, President of the Marine Energy Commission at the Renewable Energies Syndicate in an article published by France Culture April 26, 2021.
Unfortunately for Hace, senior officials from the Directorate General for Energy and Climate (DGEC) did not include the project in the multiannual energy programming (PPE). This therefore means that wave energy will have difficulties in finding funding in our territory in the coming years. Finally, if France does not seem to believe it, this technology is nevertheless seeing various projects being set up in several countries including Denmark, Portugal, China and the United States. Worldwide, no less than 350 patents in connection with wave energy have been filed.
Here is a video explaining precisely how the Hace system works: