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Hydrogen: IÖW researchers recommend targeted use and more certainty about direction of development

Source: IÖW

Which alternatives exist to replace coal, oil and natural gas? Hydrogen increasingly gains attention in connection with decarbonization internationally. In Germany, hydrogen has become a central component of climate protection policy and is seen by some players almost as a panacea for decarbonization. An article published in Environmental Research Letters by IÖW authors Dr. Florian Kern, Frieder Schmelzle and Mervin Hummel analyzes the expectations of relevant stakeholders regarding the future development of the energy carrier. Conclusion of the researchers: A targeted political prioritization of hydrogen applications could defuse tensions and support a common vision. The paper was produced as part of the "Hydrogen as a panacea?" project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Its results will be presented at a conference on the 24th of November 2023.

Decarbonization: Hydrogen as a beacon of hope

Hydrogen is a potential solution for the low carbon transformation of electricity, heating, and mobility systems as well as industry. In recent years, the energy carrier has become part of the decarbonization strategies of many countries and has been discussed in international organizations such as the International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency. Some stakeholders expect its use to decarbonize numerous sectors. The recently updated national hydrogen strategy is pursuing the ambition that Germany will take a leading role in the development of hydrogen.

Paper analyzes the status quo in Germany 

The empirical analyses of the IÖW scientists' show that there are contested pathways for the future development of hydrogen – both in terms of production and applications or sectors in which it is to be used. This leads to uncertainty and slows down development in Germany. "Instead of seeing hydrogen as a panacea for the decarbonization, its applications should be prioritized politically", emphasizes co-author Dr. Florian Kern. "A shared vision can create directional certainty," says the head of the "Environmental Economics and Environmental Policy" research group at the IÖW.


Related Links

To the paper "Hydrogen as a panacea for decarbonising everything? Exploring contested hydrogen pathways in Germany"

To the project website “Hydrogen as a panacea? Importance and construction of directional certainty for key decisions on alternative transformation paths – INSIGHTS for policy making”