Pathfinder to the hydrogen age

acatech and DECHEMA present H2-Compass

8 September 2023

The German government's hydrogen strategy marks Germany's launch towards a hydrogen economy. With the H2-Compass, acatech and DECHEMA provide guidance on possible ways to get there. The digital Compass shows data- and fact-based options for action on production, transport, imports and usage. One finding is that Germany will remain an energy importer even with hydrogen - but moving away from oil and gas will enable an important reduction in critical dependencies.

Hydrogen will be a key component of a climate-friendly economy - science, government and industry are largely in agreement on this. But many questions are still hotly debated: How much domestic hydrogen can Germany produce using renewable energies? How much will have to be imported and from where? How can a European hydrogen transport network be created - and which uses of hydrogen make most sense?

"Given the current context of climate agreements and Germany’s industrial and energy sovereignty, the goals of the national hydrogen strategy are clear. Our aim is for the H2-Compass to provide guidance as to which alternative routes can lead to these goals," says acatech President Jan Wörner.

"In many places, companies are already providing important initial impetus for the market ramp-up," says DECHEMA board member Maximilian Fleischer. "Nevertheless, no universal solutions are as yet emerging for the production, transport and application of hydrogen and its derivatives. The range of potential technological options is extensive. Therefore, market-oriented knowledge of diverse technologies is needed so that the government can effectively support research and innovation," Fleischer continued.


Germany remains an energy importing country - but can reduce critical dependencies

With a hydrogen demand of 95 to 130 terawatt hours in 2030, Germany will be dependent on imports to a considerable extent. Many countries within and outside Europe are potential exporters of hydrogen. Pipelines are the most suitable means of importing hydrogen to Germany, with the import of hydrogen or its derivatives by ship from distant regions also a possibility. Overall, the switch from coal, oil and gas to hydrogen can be used to diversify energy import sources - this would be an improvement to Germany's current dependency on major fossil fuel suppliers.

Over the course of the H2-Compass project, basic prerequisites, key technologies as well as existing and future linkages between industries, processes and sectors were identified. The Hydrogen Compass shows how technological changes in one area can trigger adaptation needs elsewhere. For example, when refineries switch from crude oil processing to hydrogen-based fuel production, sulphur, bitumen and coke as byproducts are eliminated. Replacements would need to be found for these, as they are currently used in industrial processes. Another example comes from the steel industry: When switching from the classic blast furnace route to hydrogen-based direct iron reduction, blast furnace slag and fly ash are eliminated as residual materials. These materials have until now been used in the cement industry so changes will be necessary here as well.

Other steps identified as imperative are the accelerated expansion of renewable power generation, an even more closely interlinked European electricity system and mature infrastructure for the import and transport of hydrogen and its downstream products.

The digital Hydrogen Compass (in German)


New Electrolysis Monitor: Gaps in domestic production are closing

The H2-Compass Electrolysis Monitor (available in German only) records important electrolysis capacities in Germany and Europe – of existing and planned projects. It also provides more detailed information on locations, players and technologies. An important finding is that the gap between predicted domestic generation capacity and the German government's 2030 target of 10 gigawatts is closing.


About the H2-Compass project

Germany aims to be climate-neutral by 2045. Hydrogen can be used to defossilise many areas. At the same time, hydrogen opens up new growth options for Germany as an industrial location. A project team from DECHEMA and acatech has jointly developed the Hydrogen Compass. The project is funded both by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.




Christoph Uhlhaas

Head of Communications, Media & Policy


acatech - National Academy

of Science and Engineering


T +49 89/52 03 09-60

M +49 172/144 58 52


H2-Compass is a project of acatech and DECHEMA. The project is funded by BMBF and BMWK.