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“As an energy source of the future, hydrogen is a central element of our efforts to tackle global warming and to foster a successful energy transition. By adopting the National Hydrogen Strategy, we have paved the way for Germany to rank first in the world in the field of hydrogen technologies.”

These are the words of State Secretary Andreas Feicht at the opening event of the newly established German Hydrogen Research Network. Indeed, Hydrogen plays a key role in the EU Commission’s plan to fulfil the Green Deal and to decarbonize Europe. In Germany, hydrogen is crucial for the energy system transformation and to achieve the goals set in the Climate Protection Program 2030. Germany is well prepared as a technology location and will benefit along the value chain of generation, storage and use. Both funding and regulatory adjustments are required for the market ramp-up of hydrogen technologies. However, as much as hydrogen may be able to contribute to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions throughout Europe its development is just getting off the starting blocks.

This Hydrogen Update is meant to be a kick-off blog post giving you an overview of the main initiatives launched, and milestones achieved, in the last couple of months. Future blog posts will focus on particular developments and how you may benefit from them.

What’s happening from a European Perspective?

In July 2020, the European Commission published its hydrogen strategy and made proposals to increase the long-term potential of hydrogen. The “European Clean Hydrogen Alliance” is designed to stimulate investment in order to expand production, increase demand and support the build-up of a complete hydrogen ecosystem. It is also responsible for facilitating and implementing the actions of the new European hydrogen strategy and in particular its investment agenda:

  • Until 2024: Support for the installation of electrolyzers with a capacity of 6 GW.
  • Until 2030: Realization of an electrolysis capacity of 40 GW.
  • Until 2050: Technologies for green hydrogen have established themselves.

Until 23 November 2020: Call for expressions of interest to participate at European Clean Hydrogen Alliance round tables. Six round tables will cover all operations of the hydrogen value chain, from production to end use

  • Renewable and low-carbon hydrogen production, e.g. electrolysers, solar/wind/hydro, plant engineering, equipment, materials, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and pyrolysis
  • Clean hydrogen transmission and distribution, e.g. pipelines, liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC), liquid hydrogen (LH2) and ports
  • Clean hydrogen in industrial applications, e.g. steel, chemical, refineries, eKerosene/eFuels, fertilisers, industrial heat and cement
  • Clean hydrogen for mobility, e.g. trucks/buses, light duty vehicles, trains, ships, fuel cells, drive trains, tanks and hydrogen refuelling stations (HRS)
  • Clean hydrogen in the energy sector, e.g. re-electrification, mega storage and electricity grid/balancing
  • Clean hydrogen for residential applications, e.g. district heating, combined heat and power (CHP) and solid oxide fuel cells


What’s happening from a German Perspective?

December 2019: With the initiative “HyLand – Hydrogen Regions in Germany,” the government paved the way to a hydrogen country. Further regions in Germany received support for the development of a local hydrogen economy, especially with regard to the transport sector. Funding is provided by the National Innovation Programme Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP II).

June 2020: The government announced the adoption of a “National Hydrogen Strategy” with the aim of enabling the rapid use of hydrogen in various fields of application.

  • Until 2023: Implementation of various measures in the areas of transport, industry, heating, infrastructure, education and others to start the market ramp-up (Phase 1).
  • Until 2030: Consolidation of the emerging domestic market and participation in shaping the international dimension of hydrogen (Phase 2).

July 2020: The “Network Development Plan Gas 2020-2030” has been handed over to the Federal Network Agency by the network operators. The main elements of the present network development plan are in particular the ever-increasing relevance of green gases and hydrogen. Especially with a view to the National Hydrogen Strategy recently adopted by the Federal Government, the Network Development Plan Gas 2020-2030 may help identify the first possible regions of hydrogen-based gas supply systems by 2030. In this context, the network operators emphasize the role of the gas infrastructure: Existing pipelines could be used for the transport and storage of the energy source, and networks for the exclusive transport of hydrogen could be created in the future.

September 2020: The “Hydrogen Research Network” established by the Economic Affairs Ministry commenced its work on 30 September 2020 at an opening event with more than 1,000 participants. According to the Economic Affairs Ministry, the network brings stakeholders from business, research and policy-making together to share ideas about aspects of generation, storage, distribution and the cross-sectoral use of hydrogen. The intention is to accelerate the transfer of innovative hydrogen technologies to the market. The hydrogen research network, announced in the National Hydrogen Strategy, is the ninth research network launched as part of the Energy Research Programme. It will deliver key ideas for research and innovation policy in the field of hydrogen with a view to fostering practical applications. The future network work extends over working groups, which are active in the following areas:

  • Generation of hydrogen and derived products
  • Storage
  • Infrastructure and transport
  • Use and application
  • Standardization and quality management
  • Superordinate technologies

The aim of the Hydrogen Research Network is to support the transfer of results from hydrogen research into practice and to enable extensive participation in energy policy issues. This network is to continue to tie in with the framework of the “National Hydrogen Strategy” and establish itself as a dialogue-oriented forum alongside already existing hydrogen network structures. In the long term, new solutions are to be created to establish value chains for hydrogen in Germany.


Claire Dietz-Polte ist Counsel bei Baker & McKenzie Partnerschaft von Rechtsanwälten und Steuerberatern mbB


Holger Engelkamp is a Counsel in Baker McKenzie’s Corporate Practice Group and co-heads the German Energy & Infrastructure team. Prior to joining the Firm, he worked for international law firms in Berlin and Toronto. Holger completed a six-month secondment in 2012 / 2013 to one of the world's largest investor-owned power and gas companies, advising in connection with the merger of its gas unit with its energy trading business.