Sustainable locations in the world for the green hydrogen economy of tomorrow: technical, economic and social assessment of green hydrogen potential

Green hydrogen plays a crucial role in the transformation of industry, the transport sector and the energy sector towards sustainability and climate neutrality. However, Germany will have to import a large share of the green hydrogen including synthetic products, since renewable energy sources are only available to a limited extent in this country.

The HYPAT project is developing a global hydrogen potential atlas and for the first time comprehensively identifies Germany`s possible partner countries for a cooperative development of a future green hydrogen economy, including the importance of the production regions for a secure, economical and ecologically sustainable supply.

The project is based on the objectives of the German National Hydrogen Strategy, the International Agreement on Climate Protection and the Sustainable Development Goals. In addition to a detailed survey of the global techno-economic potential and analyzing hydrogen chains, the analysis includes the symmetrical needs of the partner countries. These include sustainable coverage of their domestic energy demand, achieving their own climate goals and compliance with specific sustainability criteria for the hydrogen economy in the partner countries. Furthermore, these countries` capabilities to build such capital- and technology-intensive plants will be analyzed. The opportunities resulting for these countries will also be surveyed and acceptance and stakeholder analyses conducted.

The resulting supply of hydrogen and synthesis products is then compared with the global demand of the importing countries. It is important to analyze how hydrogen markets can be established in the future, and which market prices for hydrogen can be expected.

Finally, policy recommendations for the development of a sustainable import strategy for Germany are finally made.



The project HYPAT- H2-POTENTIALATLAS is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF as part of the "Hydrogen Republic of Germany" ideas competition in the module basic research on green hydrogen . The project runs for a period of three years, March 2021 - February 2024.

The Project Management Jülich provides technical and administrative support for the HyPat project on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF.


Work packages

Work package 0: Project advisory board

The aim of the work package is to coordinate the activities of the project advisory board, which consists of fifteen representatives from ministries, industry associations, companies and civil society. The board members bring different knowledge and perspectives to the project, which they have due to their different activities and functions in various institutions. At the same time, by involving relevant stakeholders, the advisory board also ensures that key results of the project are distributed and discussed by relevant actors in their networks.

One aim of the advisory board's activities is to make the project's scientific results as relevant to practice as possible and to link them to current developments and goals in business practice and international policy-making. To this end, the advisory board serves as platform for both the scientific project partners and the actors from politics, industry and civil society.

In the advisory board meetings, current activities and results of the project partners are presented, reflected upon and discussed. Thereby, the experts on the advisory board will also share their experience with the project partners and thus take on an important review function. At the same time, central results of the project are carried into the networks of companies and politics and thus also reach practice.

The following persons are currently members of the advisory board:

  • Dr. Roland Rösch, IRENA, Deputy Director Innovation and Technology Center
  • Dr. Sören Dengg, BMZ, Head of Unit Energy, Hydrogen, Raw Materials, Infrastructure
  • Dr. Christoph Rövekamp, BMBF, Head of Unit for Energy and Hydrogen Technologies
  • Dr. Vera Rodenhoff, BMU, Head of Unit International Cooperation on Environment, Energy and the City
  • Dr. Holger Klitzing, AA, Head of the work unit Foreign policy aspects of the energy transition
  • Dr. Falken-Großer, BMWi, Head of Unit Bilateral Energy Cooperation
  • Dr. Hubert Schillings, ENGIE, Business Development Manager, Business Unit Generation Europe
  • Dr. Tobias Bischof-Niemz, Enertrag, Head of New Energy Solutions
  • Prof. Dr. Armin Schnettler, President VDE
  • Holger Lösch, BDI, Deputy Chief Executive Officer
  • Stijn van Els, Port of Rotterdam, Director Commercial Delivery
  • Julian Flämig, RWE, Manager LNG Supply & Origination
  • Prof. Dr. Veronika Grimm, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Professor of Economics
  • Prof. Dr. Karen Pittel, IFO, Director
  • Dr. Kirsten Westphal, SWP, Project leader

Work Package 1: Evaluation of existing and ongoing studies

Work package 1 evaluates existing and ongoing national and international projects on atlases of potential. It integrates the currently available knowledge and database in a targeted way by systematically identifying findings on the potentials of exporting green hydrogen and its derivatives.

To explore the topic from very different perspectives, the individual project partners each contribute their respective expertise and research the findings relevant to the project in a differentiated manner according to their area of responsibility.

The knowledge and database is periodically reviewed and updated over the course of the project to ensure the current state of science and technology is always portrayed.

In addition, a network of actors in larger projects will be established in the thematic field of green hydrogen to share experiences and exploit synergies between the projects.

Work Package 2: Basic methodology and developing an analytical framework

Work package 2 develops the basic methodology for the analyses conducted throughout the project. It develops a comprehensive analytical framework to evaluate the suitability of countries producing hydrogen as potential hydrogen exporters. The framework’s underlying indicators are oriented on the Global Development Goals and cover economic, development, environmental as well as social and societal goals alongside technical aspects. The analysis encompasses the entire value chain for hydrogen production from renewable energies. It evaluates potential exporting countries using the analytical framework and considering multimodal perspectives.

Having identified typical producing countries, the next step develops a method for estimating hydrogen supply and demand in a global hydrogen economy. It determines an approach to arrive at product prices from manufacturing costs.

On the supply side, the analysis integrates economic and social-political as well as structural restrictions in addition to natural-technical generation potentials. On the demand side, it includes different sectors of the respective country, such as the chemical industry, the transport sector and to a limited extent the heating/cooling and electricity sectors. This approach forms the basis for identifying the global supply potential and demand curves in other work.

Work package 3: Supply potentials of green hydrogen in the producing countries

Work package 3 (WP 3) derives a global cost potential curve for the supply of green hydrogen. This curve combines information about both global hydrogen production costs and transport costs. It is supposed to serve in political decision-making processes as a recommendation for action. The resulting cost potential curve is determined in WP 3.3 by globally upscaling the results of the countries’ techno-economic (WP 3.1) and socio-economic assessments (WP 3.2).

In the techno-economic assessment, an in-depth analysis is carried out for a selection of countries determined in WP 2. Therefore, the country-specific potentials for renewable energy (RE) production are determined. After deducting the country-specific RE demand, the remaining RE potentials for hydrogen production through electrolysis are known. Following, by modelling and deducting the internal hydrogen demand, the hydrogen export potential is derived. In addition to pure hydrogen, the analyses also include selected hydrogen-based chemical feedstocks and synthetic products.

In the socio-economic analysis, firstly, an international sustainability standard for the hydrogen economy is defined. In order to derive potentials and funding requirements for the development of hydrogen value chains, German and international markets will be modelled and the effects of incentive systems will be evaluated. In addition, aspects of acceptance will be studied, exchange with relevant partners in international cooperation will be included, and a database will be set up for which data on policy, regulation and quality infrastructure will be collected.

Work Package 4: Global demand for green hydrogen and synthesis products

Work package 4 focuses on the global demand for green hydrogen and synthesis products depending on technical and socio-economic factors. It gives a breakdown of the expected range of demand per sector in different price segments.

It determines upper and lower limits of global demand for hydrogen and hydrogen-based energy sources up to 2050 based on existing global scenarios. As the production-side of hydrogen is not only influenced by economic variables, other medium- to long-term determinants of demand are surveyed for important sectors in Germany and other key countries, such as environmental properties, safety aspects and willingness to pay.

Some importing countries are expected to produce a substantial share of hydrogen and synthesis products domestically, so their production potentials are also determined in order to map their demand on the global market in later work.

The study identifies major challenges to using existing potentials from the viewpoint of political, civil society and private sector actors. It analyzes actor systems and acceptance issues on the demand side to reveal factors that can advance or hinder international cooperation and determine the type and extent of green hydrogen use. The result is a global demand projection for hydrogen and synthesis products that considers domestic potentials, actors and acceptance.

Work package 5: Compilation of previous results

Work package 5 consolidates the results of previous work packages and matches the demand for imports and production supply. It outlines all the potential conflicts and competing uses of energy resources and interactions with the local energy transition in the producing countries.

According to the National Hydrogen Strategy, the aim is for international hydrogen cooperation to support local markets and the energy transition in producing countries by maximizing synergies between the national energy transition and international hydrogen cooperation.

Results from the ongoing project are considered as are legal conditions, existing energy and sustainability criteria, and the quality of governance and the education system.

Country-specific profiles are presented for all the selected partner countries of the opportunities and risks for the national energy transition in the case of international hydrogen cooperation. These are used to derive conclusions and recommendations for action that will be integrated into work package 6.

Work package 6: Policy recommendations

This work package develops recommendations for policies in Germany and the EU.

Three perspectives are integratively brought together: cost-efficient and secured import options for green hydrogen, foreign trade opportunities for German and European companies as well as contributions to sustainable development and risks for potential producing countries.

The following policy aspects are described and presented in a roadmap with the two main time horizons 2030 and 2050.

(I) Recommendations for financing and incentivizing the development of production and transport infrastructures in Germany and the EU

(II) Recommendations on governance structures

(III) Development of proposals on international sustainability standards for a green hydrogen production

(IV) Green hydrogen import strategies for Germany and the EU

(V) Competence building

Overarching synergies and trade-offs between these levels are particularly pointed out and possibilities for reducing trade-offs are described. Regarding the time perspective (2030 vs. 2050), different paths and risks of lock-in effects are discussed.