UPDATED 1 Sept: The EI library in London is temporarily closed to the public, as a precautionary measure in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The Knowledge Service will still be answering email queries via email , or via live chats during working hours (09:15-17:00 GMT). Our e-library is always open for members here: eLibrary , for full-text access to over 200 e-books and millions of articles. Thank you for your patience.
magazine logo
magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

European Space Agency going green with launch of Spaceport hydrogen plan


Space rocket launch at night, with bright flames and billowing smoke Photo: ESA-CNES-Arianespace/Optique Video du CSG/JM Guillon
The HYGUANE project will establish a pilot plant at the European Spaceport in French Guiana that will produce 130 t/y of green hydrogen for use as rocket fuel

Photo: ESA-CNES-Arianespace/Optique Video du CSG/JM Guillon

The European Space Agency (ESA), the French space agency CNES and a group of industrial and academic partners have set in motion a plan to slash CO2 emissions associated with orbital launches, by establishing infrastructure to underpin a hydrogen economy supporting Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

The project – known as HYGUANE (HYdrogène GUyanais A Neutralité Environnementale) – aims to establish a pilot plant within the Spaceport capable of producing 130 t/y of green hydrogen, with the goal of dramatically reducing the base’s greenhouse gas emissions. Spaceport is working towards 90% renewable energy sources by the end of 2025.


Key to the scheme is the replacement of grey hydrogen – produced by a widely used but CO2-intensive industrial process known as methanol steam reforming – with green hydrogen produced by water electrolysis from renewable energy. The green hydrogen will be used to fuel rockets, reducing CO2 emissions linked to the Ariane space rocket programme by several thousand tonnes per year, says ESA.


HYGUANE will also develop a hydrogen economy in French Guiana, producing hydrogen to fuel the road transport sector, as well as hydrogen fuel cells for energy storage.


The partners also plan to create a Hydrogen Competence Centre in French Guiana, to develop specific know-how to maintain and operate these new systems and to help develop start-ups. ESA and CNES are working with Air Liquide, SARA, MT-Aerospace, Be.Blue, the Université de Guyane and the Université de Liège.


Commenting on the news, Teddy Peponnet, ESA’s European Spaceport Infrastructure & Renewable Energy Project Manager, says: ‘Investment in green hydrogen production at the Spaceport will cut costs, reduce exposure to rising fossil fuel prices and take a load off French Guiana’s electricity grid. HYGUANE will put us well ahead of COP21 [Paris Agreement] and European Green Deal emissions objectives.’


ESA Director of Space Transportation Daniel Neuenschwander adds: ‘This is a good step for greening Europe’s Spaceport. The number of launches is growing rapidly, so now is the right time to invest. A green hydrogen system will support environmental sustainability, stabilise costs and protect Spaceport operations from energy supply disruption.’