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Pioneering hydrogen-powered local energy communities

Pioneering hydrogen-powered local energy communities

Little Cithy is the name of the local energy community to be created in the new 352-unit residential neighbourhood development in Cappelle-la-Grande in the south of Dunkirk. 

In Auxerre, much like in the Little Cithy project, we’re coordinating the technical studies with a focus on assessing the feasibility of the proposed heating network and the fully autonomous microgrid.

Jean-Baptiste Videau, Research Engineer, Lab Crigen

A pre-feasibility study was launched with ENGIE in 2020 to evaluate if hydrogen production and storage could be implemented so that the renewable energy produced in the neighbourhood can fulfil local energy needs for heating, cooling, and specific electricity. The goals are to reduce the greenhouse gases and to increase the autonomy rate of the district.

A decision was made for the configuration to be implemented in the Little Cithy hydrogen-powered local energy community development project near Dunkirk. New features of the neighborhood are to be confirmed by the promoter in November 2023. This will mark the start of the development study that will refine and confirm the costings in connection with ENGIE Solutions. A similar project was launched in Auxerre, adding pyro-gasification to the mix. 

PV Installations Combined With Hydrogen Production, Storage, and Combustion

This study was successfully completed in 2022, and a hybrid configuration combining PV production, electrolytic hydrogen production and hydrogen storage was selected. In this scenario, heat and hot water supply for the individual dwellings will be covered by heat pumps powered by electricity provided in first priority by the PV production, then by the electricity network and in last priority by the conversion of stored hydrogen via a fuel cell. Heat and hot water for the collective dwellings, on the other hand, will be supplied by substations equipped with heat pumps within a heating network connected to a district-scale hydrogen boiler. PV production will also directly cover a part of the electricity needs for all dwellings.

The development study initiated in 2023 aims at going further in terms of energy and economic model and provide a clear investment and exploitation roadmap for the City and the promoter.

Coordinating The Technical Studies

In Auxerre, a similar project of a hydrogen- powered local energy community was launched in 2022. This concerns a neighbourhood with a mix of existing and new buildings. The proposed energy configuration involves the development of a local district heating network fuelled by a pyro-gasification unit, a microgrid with PV installations and battery storage, and a hydrogen electrolyser. The whole will be designed and sized to cover all the local energy needs for heating, cooling and mobility. 

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