France Describing Its Huge White Hydrogen Discovery

Aaron Foyer
Courtesy of Pintrest

Over the summer, drillers in France were exploring for natural gas and accidentally discovered a natural deposit of hydrogen. It turns out the deposit is less sparkling wine and more Dom Pérignon Champagne magnum.

What happened: While drilling in Lorraine, an eastern region of France near the German border, researchers noticed high levels of hydrogen being produced. The deeper the team drilled, the higher the concentration of the clean gas. After crunching some numbers, the discovery looks to be the largest deposit of white hydrogen in the world.

  • White hydrogen is hydrogen produced naturally underground, existing in its natural form in a reservoir. This differs from other sources of hydrogen, like that produced from electrolysis or steam reforming, produced by chemically reacting other substances.

White hydrogen is also environmentally friendly. According to the World Bank, it has a lower carbon intensity even compared even to green hydrogen made using renewable electricity.

C’est grand! With limited drilling data, there is still a wide range of estimates. But early numbers indicate the reservoir could contain between 6 and 250 million tonnes of hydrogen, per CNN.

  • For comparison: In 2022, global hydrogen use stood at 95 million tonnes, according to the International Energy Agency.

Drilling boom? According to the World Economic Forum, elected officials from nearby towns are eager for continued exploration. Hydrogen has not typically been a gas targeted by explorers but could lead to significant economic opportunity.

Even nearby Switzerland announced plans to search for hydrogen deposits.