Hydrogen: Atawey's plan to capture 40% of the recharging station market
Atawey has set itself the goal of being able to supply 150 stations in five years to meet the demand, and is thus preparing to conduct "a significant fundraising effort" and to increase its workforce from 30 to 150 employees by 2025.
THE HYDROGEN CONQUEST, Episode 9: The development of the hydrogen sector, provided for in the recovery plan, will give wings to the Savoyard SME Atawey, which aims to capture 40% of the market for hydrogen recharging stations by 2025. A small inch so far in this booming sector that could soon be among the leaders in this market.
Over the past year, Atawey has set up three hydrogen recharging stations: first in Chambéry, then at the end of the year in Evreux (Normandy) but also in Nouméa (New Caledonia). These locations enabled the SME employing 30 people, based in Bourget-du-Lac (Savoie), to demonstrate its know-how. Set up in partnership with local authorities, these stations enable hydrogen-powered vehicles to be recharged in five minutes, giving them an autonomy of around 600 kilometers.
Strong growth in development
In the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, Atawey has set up the first two hydrogen recharging stations in Clermont-Ferrand and Chambéry as part of the Zero Emission Valley project, which aims to deploy 20 stations and 1,200 professional vehicles - cars, trucks, buses - running on hydrogen in the region.
In particular, the program aims to subsidize the acquisition of these vehicles in order to bring their cost of use closer to that of internal combustion vehicles. This is currently only envisaged for vehicles with intensive use, which explains the focus on certain company vehicles.
The hydrogen plan announced at the end of the year by the government marks an acceleration of the growth potential of the Savoyard SME. With the hydrogen plan deployed as part of France Relance, nearly 400 hydrogen recharging stations will be created in the country by 2025, compared with the current figure of around 30. Atawey intends to take the lion's share of this national development. "We currently hold 40% of the market, and our ambition is to keep this 40% share," says Jean-Michel Amaré, Atawey's president, who says he is also looking at the possibility of expansion in various European countries.
Productive investments and hiring
To achieve this goal of more than 150 stations to be implemented in five years, the company's CEO is preparing to accelerate investments. A new manufacturing site, housing the research and development department, is planned to develop the means of production. The company should see its workforce increase fivefold, from 30 to 150 by 2025.
A new round of financing is planned in 2021 to finance this development, in addition to the efforts already made to support innovation. "We are reinjecting 30% of our revenues into research and development," Jean-Michel Amaré points out. This work was rewarded last year when Atawey won the ADEME innovation competition, opening up new avenues for the company.
"We are going to develop new resort solutions that will be of great interest to tourist areas," says Jean-Michel Amaré, whose company is already located not far from the ski resorts.
The last fund-raising campaign, conducted in 2020, brought in "several million euros", says Jean-Michel Amaré, who wishes to keep this figure, as well as the company's turnover, confidential. "The next fund-raising campaign will be very substantial," he says.
The challenge is great, but Atawey's CEO is confident.
"We're used to growth: we double in size every year. We're used to growth: we double in size every year," says Jean-Michel Amaré. The biggest challenge will be to keep our startup spirit alive through innovation, while remaining close to the concerns of our customers and users."
Atawey is already working on the planned rollout in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, where it will set up a new station in Moûtiers (Savoie). The company is also at work in the Île-de-France region, where it will deploy hydrogen stations as part of the Last Mile project. And Jean-Michel Amaré is closely following the Occitanie region, "which has strong deployment potential," he says, noting the current trend of all regions having strategic hydrogen plans.
In Noumea (New Caledonia), the recent establishment of a hydrogen recharging station is a perfect example of the environmentally friendly supply dimension in a decentralized manner, he illustrates.
As for a development aimed at the general public, Jean-Michel Amaré envisages it in several years, but only for intensive use, in order to go beyond what is possible with battery-powered vehicles.