Genvia is a groundbreaking public-private partnership between government research organization CEA through its venture fund CEA Investissement and private-sector corporation SLB (formerly Schlumberger)—who, together, own an 80% stake—and minority shareholders VINCI Construction, Vicat, and ARIS Occitanie, a mission-driven regional venture capital fund in southwestern France. Former CEA-Liten director Florence Lambert is Genvia’s CEO.
The company’s high-performance SOEC, which originated in the CEA’s labs, is fully reversible: Energy can be alternately stored (in the form of hydrogen produced via water electrolysis) or produced (as electricity and/or heat). Hydrogen production must be made more efficient and cost effective to enable massive deployment. According to the Hydrogen Council, up to 20% of global energy demand could go to hydrogen production within the next 30 years, so the stakes are high.
Demonstrators and test runs on a pilot production line at the SLB Cameron - Genvia plant in Béziers, France, were conclusive and, while the definitive go/no-go decision won’t be made until next year, the partners are planning to build a high-temperature SOEC and fuel-cell gigafactory in Béziers that would start manufacturing in 2026. The proposed gigafactory would allow Genvia to respond to expected market demand in 2030 and beyond.
Strategic alliances with industrial companies in several key markets will also position Genvia to develop innovative solutions to decarbonize hard-to-abate industrial processes. A joint Genvia-CEA tech center on the CEA’s Grenoble campus is also helping scale the technology up for manufacturing more rapidly.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.