Areva H2-Gen JV will manufacture proton exchange membrane electrolysers to produce hydrogen from water and electricity.

The electrolysers may also be used to supply service stations with hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles or to supply natural gas networks.

The three entities will hold equal interests in the JV, which will be based in France and have an engineering and production site.

Areva said an equity investment from the French State through Ademe will help finance the development and sale of more powerful electrolysers.

Ademe president Bruno Lechevin said the initiative will help to accelerate the emergence of hydrogen as a storage solution.

"In particular, these solutions will help to better promote the production and development of renewable energies in France and throughout the rest of the world," Lechevin added.

Areva president and chief executive officer Luc Oursel said PEM electrolysis is a solution which is relevant because the market for the storage of hydrogen-based energy is growing at such a fast rate.

"Particularly well-suited to the mass production of hydrogen, this solution offers considerable competitive advantages compared to traditional technologies. In particular, it meets the expectations of customers striving to optimise the use of local renewable sources of energy," Oursel added.