16 March 2023 • 7 mins

Kathryn Boyd

Bonds Beyond Molecules: How Hydrogen is Delivering Energy Ambitions Through Partnerships

By Sally Ronald, Country Director, Trade, Germany, and Deputy Trade Commissioner, Europe at Department for Business and Trade (DBT)

As environment professionals, policy-makers and investors alike grapple with the common challenge of climate change and energy security, hydrogen is emerging as a unifying hero. Bonding more than just molecules, shifting energy objectives have helped bring international decision makers and investors to the same conclusion in a relatively short amount of time.

After years of little progress, hydrogen has emerged a clear priority across numerous international trade and investment discussions. This has helped to reinvigorate regional trade dialogues and excite the interest of investment partners, meaning we are in a position to move forward more quickly.

Both the UK and Germany are set to play a major role in the mainstreaming of hydrogen as an energy carrier, whilst regional clusters are critical to achieving production and decarbonisation targets.


Building Hydrogen Powerhouses

One recent example of international collaboration across regions is the ‘North meets North hydrogen dialogue’, bringing together England’s North (the Northern Powerhouse) and five northern German states - Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Niedersachsen and Schleswig-Holstein (‘The HY-5 alliance’).


Heike Tipmonta


The aim of the dialogue is to bring entrepreneurs, investors and policy-makers closer to both the Northern Powerhouse and northern Germany.

Heike Tipmonta, HY-5 alliance


"Northern Germany is among the global pioneers of hydrogen and aims to set up the infrastructure for a green hydrogen economic sector by 2035”, explains Heike Tipmonta, a representative of the HY-5 alliance. "The aim of the dialogue is to bring entrepreneurs, investors and policy-makers closer to both the Northern Powerhouse and northern Germany", Heike adds.


David Hodgson


The next milestone to overcome in 2023 and beyond, is the scale up challenge.

David Hodgson, Managing Director, TFP Hydrogen Products


Likewise, some of the UK’s most ambitious hydrogen clusters are evolving in the country’s north, which includes HyNet in the North West and the East Coast Cluster (a collaboration between Zero Carbon Humber, Net Zero Teesside and Northern Endurance Partnership) in the North East. With almost half of the UK’s industrial emissions originating from the North East (The Humber and Teesside) building local capability to decarbonise these regions remains a key strategic driver.

TFP Hydrogen Products, is a leader in green hydrogen technology and part of the TFP group, which is headquartered in the North West village of Burneside. Its Managing Director, David Hodgson, suggests now is the time to scale, emphasising how the industry has already proven the integral value of green hydrogen as part of a global energy solution. “Following supportive policies by governments across the globe and the drive to decarbonise by 2050, hydrogen is rapidly becoming a very real industry“, David said.

“We have in place an ambitious innovation roadmap and are already planning the next phase of our manufacturing technology”, David said. “This will allow co-location with rapid start-up times, further supporting original equipment manufacturers as they establish global manufacturing bases”. However, David cautions, to build on the momentum the sector has already gained, hydrogen energy needs to become more accessible, affordable and mainstream.


The race to scale

As businesses such as TFP Hydrogen Products pioneer green hydrogen technology and capability, governments across Europe are racing to develop supporting policies and partnerships that underpin them across local, regional and federal levels. Increasingly it is stakeholders from Germany and the UK who are progressing these efforts jointly, their willingness to take risks nudging them to the helm of the energy transition.

Amer Gaffer


Decarbonisation is a global challenge. Achieving net zero will require the involvement of supply chains across multiple sectors.

Amer Gaffar, Director, Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre


So how is it that these serendipitous partners are able to agree and achieve success at such a rapid speed? Amer Gaffar heads the Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre and participated in the launch of the North meets North hydrogen initiative. “The Northern Powerhouse and northern regions in Germany have great synergy but are also at different levels of progress towards net zero. This means we can learn from each other and more readily identify areas where we need to critically accelerate for progress”, says Amer.

Heike Winkler, who heads WAB e.V., one of Germany’s largest offshore wind associations based in northern Germany also points to technical synergies which help make Northern Germany and the Northern Powerhouse natural partners. With both regions having market leading capability in offshore wind technologies, there is another driver behind their interest in hydrogen.

“Offshore wind has the highest number of full load hours with which to enable electrolysis for green hydrogen production”, Heike said. “Wind energy captured at sea provides the most stable energy production location, regardless of whether green hydrogen goes on to be produced at sea or at land”. Perhaps therein lies the importance of international cooperation - as we strive to build a sustainable new industry, we need to ensure the base on which it is built is compatible not only politically and economically, but also technologically as part of a whole system approach.


Heike Winkler


International cooperation makes ambitious national renewable targets easier to achieve and deliver.

Heike Winkler, Managing Director, WAB e.V.


Where does that leave us now?

As we edge closer to our ambitious climate targets, we need to stand ready to collaborate, innovate and make decisions on the very similar but unchartered challenges that we face. But we are already showing that through close alignment across our industries, governing bodies and regional clusters, that we have an opportunity for accelerated growth and deeper collaboration at all levels. Much like the bond between molecules, together we are capable of achieving much more.

Missed our first Clean Growth conversation? Read it here.

What’s your view on the growing role of hydrogen for global trade and investment? Send us your comments: Simon.Tosserams@fcdo.gov.uk

Are you interested in learning more about hydrogen investment opportunities in the UK? Contact: Simon.Tosserams@fcdo.gov.uk

Are you a UK company that would you like to explore hydrogen linked trade opportunities with Germany? Contact: Susanne.Holzmann@fcdo.gov.uk


  • Did you know?

    The UK Hydrogen Strategy, published in August 2021, updated in December 2022, outlined a comprehensive roadmap for the development of a thriving UK hydrogen economy over the coming decade. In the British Energy Security Strategy published in April 2022, the UK government doubled the UK’s hydrogen production ambition to up to 10GW, by 2030.



The economic development organisations of the northern German states of Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Niedersachsen and Schleswig-Holstein have joined forces to form the green hydrogen initiative HY-5. The new initiative aims to make Northern Germany the strongest future region for green hydrogen in the heart of Europe and to develop and complete the value chain for green hydrogen. Together, the federal states want to help establish Northern Germany as a hotspot on the European hydrogen map.


TFP Hydrogen Products

TFP Hydrogen Products is a leading UK green hydrogen technology company and electrochemical materials specialist. TFP Hydrogen Product materials enable a range of sustainable technologies, including PEM water electrolysers, hydrogen fuel cells and flow batteries, improving both lifetime and efficiency.


Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre

The Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre is the landmark new £4m technology hub leading the way in harnessing renewable energy. The centre brings together the latest technology, world leading academics and industry professionals to create new, clean electrolysis and fuel cells.


WAB e.V.

Bremerhaven-based WAB e.V. is a contact partner for the offshore wind industry in Germany and the leading business network for onshore wind energy in the north-west region. The association fosters the production of “green” hydrogen from wind energy. It comprises some 250 smaller and larger businesses as well as institutes from all sectors of the wind industry, the maritime industry as well as research.