20 December 2022 • 3 mins

Kathryn Boyd

Uniting Businesses Around Splitting Water: The Growing Role for Hydrogen and Why the UK and Germany Should Work Together

By Kathryn Boyd, Country Director, Trade, Germany, and Deputy Trade Commissioner, Europe at Department for International Trade (DIT)

Europe’s economies are transforming at unprecedented pace to shake off their reliance on fossil fuels. A new, net zero trade and investment landscape is emerging from this unparalleled shift and at the heart of this change is one of the simplest possible molecules, consisting of just two protons and two electrons held together by electrostatic forces - hydrogen. As we kick-off our series of clean growth conversations, we focus on the hopes and hurdles surrounding hydrogen.

“A question I am often asked is if green hydrogen is needed for industrial decarbonisation. A better question would be how industrial decarbonisation would be possible without green hydrogen”, says Calum McConnell, Managing Director of ITM Power GmbH. “The answer is that it is not.”

Calum, who leads the British electrolyser manufacturer’s Germany activities is convinced that “electrolysers are the engine room that will drive cleaner operations for heavy industries”. But this transformation requires rallying governments, businesses, investors and the wider public around a common cause. “The only way we can create and grow the bourgeoning clean hydrogen economy is through collaboration” he cautions. “Utilising partnerships, at ITM Power, we are more motivated than ever to keep pushing the boundaries of how hydrogen is created and used.”


Calum McConnell

Every three months that passes is one per cent of the available time to reach net zero. We can’t afford to wait while time stacks against us and the golden window to avert climate catastrophe closes.

Calum McConnell, Managing Director, ITM Power GmbH


The notion of partnership which is echoing in board rooms across the globe resonates in the world of trade and investment diplomacy. Regional, bilateral and international partnerships are being forged at pace to support the ramp-up of hydrogen production and development of robust and reliable supply and value chains – most recently the Northern Powerhouse (the north of England in the UK) partnered with five northern German states to increase collaboration across their respective hydrogen value chains under the umbrella of the “North meets North hydrogen dialogue”.

Everyone is talking about hydrogen as a way to decarbonise our economies and improve energy security. But it remains somewhat controversial, primarily because it takes so much energy to produce. Where you have vast sources of renewable electricity - from offshore wind for example - the energy intensity of hydrogen production isn't so much of an issue.

This is why the UK and Germany have so much to gain from greater collaboration on hydrogen. The UK has the largest offshore wind market in Europe and the biggest project pipeline, and Germany is set to account for more than half of the combined hydrogen import demand in Europe.


Kat Boyd

The path towards greater energy independence and decarbonisation may seem rocky – but it will be easier for us all if we work together. The UK and Germany are perfect partners.

Kathryn Boyd, Country Director, Trade, Germany and Deputy Trade Commissioner for Europe


German industrial giant Siemens Energy has a large footprint in both the UK and Germany. “We see hydrogen as pivotal for reaching a net-zero energy system and hitting our decarbonisation goals. We are significantly investing, like in our new electrolyser factory in Berlin”, says Steve Scrimshaw, Siemens Energy’s UK Managing Director.

“Closer to home we have just 13 years until 2035 which is the deadline set by the UK Government for a net-zero grid” notes Steve. “Our recent report ‘A National Endeavour’ highlights that we must ramp up hydrogen production and use by 10,000 times to hit these government targets. It’s a big task ahead.” With the big task, comes the big opportunity and it’s full circle back to the importance of partnerships.

“There is a danger that the UK gets left behind the rest of Europe and indeed the world, if we don’t scale up and move at pace to deliver”, he cautions. “We believe that innovation and partnerships are key to kick-starting the hydrogen economy. That’s why recently Siemens Energy in the UK announced a £3.5 million investment in Newcastle, with Australia-based partner Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), East Midlands-based company GeoPura and Innovate UK to develop a green-ammonia cracker prototype to help storage and use hydrogen when and where it is needed.”

The recent Siemens Energy investment points to the commercial opportunities linked to enabling a hydrogen-based economy. “It is projects, investment and collaboration like this that we need more of across the industry”, Steve concludes.


Steve Scrimshaw

We believe that innovation and partnerships are key to kick-starting the hydrogen economy.

Steve Scrimshaw, Vice President Siemens Energy Limited GB&I


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, 5GW of which should be low carbon hydrogen.


Siemens Energy is one of the world’s leading energy technology companies. The German company works with its customers and partners on energy systems for the future, thus supporting the transition to a more sustainable world. With its portfolio of products, solutions and services, Siemens Energy covers almost the entire energy value chain – from power generation and transmission to storage.

ITM Power plc is a British company that designs and manufactures, electrolysers based on proton exchange membrane technology to produce green hydrogen using renewable electricity and water. In January 2022, ITM announced that their wholly-owned subsidiary, ITM Power GmbH, had been approved for a €1.95 million (approximately £1.6 million) award for the SINEWAVE project, as part of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research´s (BMBF) hydrogen flagship project H2Giga that focuses on technology development for series production and industrialisation of electrolysis systems. The project runs to March 2025 and is the first time ITM have accessed German federal funding.