Security challenges & reliability of sustainable industry
The major challenges of the development of the hydrogen sector in France are now widely shared and have made it possible to draw up the roadmap supported by France Hydrogène: to massify the production of hydrogen, to develop its uses, to revitalise the territorial ecosystems, so many challenges to be taken up for which the numerous players in the sector are mobilising.
Beyond these major challenges, other aspects remain essential to the success and viability of the sector: social acceptability and the availability of hydrogen, which underpin responses in terms of the safety and reliability of systems and infrastructures, are indeed essential!
As an example, the PCAET (Plan Climat-Air-Energie Territorial) workshops conducted in the territories gather valuable information from citizens. When consulted on the subject of hydrogen, the public often expresses a favourable opinion of this new energy vector, which is well perceived as a “renewable” energy. However, one of the frequent points of questioning concerns the danger of this energy and the safety of new systems using hydrogen, particularly for mobility.
Specialised in the field of risk management
Airbus Protect, a subsidiary of the Airbus group, has put its skills at the service of the hydrogen sector in order to provide answers to these questions relating to the security and reliability of the systems that produce, store, transport and use this new energy vector. As Pierre Sécher, head of development of hydrogen activities at Airbus Protect, explains, “Our company’s mission is twofold:
- on the one hand, to secure the hydrogen sector by offering consultancy, study, expertise and training services in the fields of safety, security and cybersecurity, but also the environment. Taking into account the sustainability of activities no longer only includes the economic aspect; the impact of CO2 emissions or the climate risk must now be taken into account by company management;
- the second part of this mission consists of taking these risks into account and optimising the performance of hydrogen systems and projects, particularly with regard to operational availability. To do this, we carry out system engineering services, reliability and maintenance studies in a design-to-cost approach (for example, how to obtain the best availability of a hydrogen production and distribution installation at a target or acceptable cost). We go beyond technical performance and take into account the human factor, in other words, people in their working environment, right from the system design phase.
Safety, security, sustainability by design
With more than 800 employees and a turnover approaching 90 million euros in 2021, Airbus Protect has a strong presence in the aeronautics sector, its original field.
Airbus’ ambition to develop the hydrogen aircraft by 2035 mobilises many resources of Airbus Protect, recognised as the group’s centre of excellence on “safety, security, sustainability” subjects. The technical challenges imposed by the use of liquefied hydrogen on future aircraft involve rethinking the entire design and reconstructing the safety demonstrations that will enable the authorities to issue the future airworthiness certificate. Carrying out risk and reliability analyses very early in the design process is one of the characteristics of the aeronautics industry that Airbus Protect wishes to put to good use in many industrial projects in the hydrogen sector.
“Our membership of the Airbus group allows us to make the most of the transfer of know-how between industrial sectors,” emphasises Pierre Sécher.
Airbus Protect has been exporting its expertise for over 35 years to other industrial sectors.
In the field of mobility, on the one hand, Airbus Protect is involved in the railway, automotive and urban transport sectors. For example, the Airbus subsidiary brings its know-how to bear on the cybersecurity challenges of the future autonomous train or on the industrial risk studies linked to the adaptation of hydrogen bus depots.
Airbus Protect’s areas of expertise
Airbus Protect also intervenes in the field of industry, which uses hydrogen to make its processes less emissive in greenhouse gases. Modifications to industrial units involve updating administrative files relating to ICPE regulations (Installations Classified for Environmental Protection) and reviewing hazard studies, particularly Seveso, and environmental impact studies. Airbus Protect assists operators in the preparation of these files, from their creation to the exchanges with the administration.
Finally, Airbus Protect is also involved in the energy field, with producers and transporters of hydrogen, in gaseous or liquefied form, whether they are large industrial complexes for massive hydrogen production or smaller units for territorial distribution close to the end user. The challenges of hydrogen availability must be understood at the level of the entire supply chain. A break in this chain due to a breakdown, an accident or a malicious act can have major economic consequences.
Sustained growth and resource requirements
Thus, around this issue of risk control, to which more and more attention is being paid, Airbus Protect has the skills to understand industrial systems and processes and to propose technical and organisational risk control measures adapted to each sector of activity and its challenges. Mostly composed of engineers, the teams, which have been strengthened by more than 320 people in 2021, are continuing to develop. Recruitment is varied in the specialities of the sectors: aeronautics, transport, defence, chemical industry, energy. Airbus Protect is looking for expert profiles in risk management, sustainable development and cybersecurity.
Airbus Protect is also focusing on the digitalisation of its business lines with a department dedicated to digital transformation, largely made up of data scientists and experts in artificial intelligence. “The objective is to meet customer expectations with customised digital solutions, but also to transform the business by taking advantage of the benefits of digital technology combined with the business expertise acquired over many years,” explains Pierre Sécher.
In this area, Airbus Protect has developed an industrial risk management platform that can be used by a network of industrial facilities such as hydrogen production and distribution units. Present in Toulouse, where the head office is located, but also in Élancourt and Issy-les-Moulineaux for the Paris region, in Marseille, but also in Bordeaux, Nancy and Brest as well as in Germany, England and Spain, Airbus Protect provides its solutions as close as possible to the needs of its customers. In the field of hydrogen, whether they are innovative very small companies or large groups, its clients are located around the major industrial basins as well as at the heart of all territorial ecosystems.
Indeed, all categories of customers are concerned. Each link in the hydrogen chain must be secured to make hydrogen a trusted commodity and its performance must be optimised to make it a sustainable commodity.