Several Fraunhofer R&D institutes have jointly presented a hydrogen roadmap for Germany that shows different paths to a massive market ramp-up of green hydrogen (H2) in Europe’s largest economy.

The roadmap was also sent to several German ministries that are currently brooding over a soon-to-be-presented national hydrogen strategy outlining possible measures to adapt the regulatory framework for taxes, fees and surcharges on electricity, along with ways of strengthening sector coupling, supporting pilot projects, and creating internationally standardised rules for H2.

Based on scenarios by the German energy agency (Dena), the federation of industries (BDI) and the national hydrogen and fuel cell organisation (NOW), the road map estimates Germany to have green H2, generated via electrolysis from renewable power, grow to a producing capacity of 50-80GW by 2050.

For that, annual additions would need to start with double-digit megawatt volumes, and reach about 1GW per year towards the end of the 2020s.

German manufacturers could profit massively from the build-up of a global hydrogen economy.

If a global electrolyser capacity of 3,000GW is reached by 2050, German electrolyser and hydrogen cell producers could look at a value creation of about €32bn ($35bn), the hydrogen roadmap concludes.

Hydrogen electrolysers are likely to be used where LCOE of PV and wind is less than $32/MWh.

“In our view, there is a technological basis for the entire value creation chain [of hydrogen],” said Christopher Hebling, head of hydrogen technologies at the Fraunhofer ISE institute for solar energy systems.

“The important thing now is to set the course in such a way that the scale-up for realising further cost reductions and gathering operating experience is a success.”

Hydrogen electrolysers are likely to be used in those regions of the world, where the levelised cost of energy of PV and wind power plants is less than €30/MWh – and those plants need to operate for at least 4,000 full load-hours per year – the Fraunhofer institutes reckon.

H2 can be transported in liquefied form similar to liquefied natural gas, or chemically bound as ammonia, methanol or as liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC).

“Many world regions are preparing for this form of trading in sustainably produced energy sources and basic chemicals, which will enable Germany to expand its energy partnerships beyond the previous fossil energy partnerships,” said Mario Ragwitz, head of the Fraunhofer facility for energy infrastructure and geothermal energy.


To create an international energy-trading system based on hydrogen, the Fraunhofer Institutes identify the following key issues:

- Creating a long-term set of investment-secure rules for political and regulatory security - More investment in research to reduce costs and the longevity of products

- Development of international harmonised and certified standards for H2-based energy carriers and chemicals

- System analysis for information gathering on expected business models in comprehensive chains

- International research cooperation