What types of hydrogen are there?

Is hydrogen = hydrogen?

What types are there and are they truly environmentally friendly?

Green hydrogenCO2-free hydrogen
Green hydrogenGreen hydrogen is produced exclusively from renewable energies. No CO2 is released during electrolysis, due to the renewable energies.
Grey hydrogenCO2-intensive hydrogen
Grey hydrogenGrey hydrogen is obtained exclusively from fossil fuels. During production, natural gas is usually converted into hydrogen and CO2 under heat, producing 10 tons of CO2 for every 1 ton of hydrogen
Blue hydrogenCO2-neutral hydrogen
Blue hydrogenBlue hydrogen is grey hydrogen in which the produced CO2 is separated and stored. The CO2 does not enter the atmosphere, which makes the production CO2-neutral.
Turquoise hydrogenAlternative production without CO2 production
Turquoise hydrogenTurquoise hydrogen, is produced by the thermal decomposition of methane (methane pyrolysis). Instead of CO2, carbon is produced.

Source: bmbf.de


Where can hydrogen be used?


Fuel cells improve the performance of electric buses by generating on-board power from hydrogen to recharge the batteries. Today, bus manufacturers offer fuel cell buses as a standard option for electric propulsion to transport companies.


Fuel cell cars convert hydrogen from the fuel tank into electricity to power the vehicle's electric motor.


Nearly every train route served by diesel trains can be served by a hydrogen train. From regional and commuter trains to shunting and marshalling yard systems, replacement is possible on a one-to-one basis.


Compared to a battery electric solution, fuel cell technology offers a longer range, more power, more payload capacity and faster refuelling. It is the most practical solution to reduce emissions and create a cleaner future without any compromises during operation.


Fuel cells will play a key role in helping the shipping industry combat greenhouse gas emissions on the water and in ports. Batteries are well suited for ships for very short distances that can be recharged frequently. For longer distances and larger ships, hydrogen fuel cells are the most practical zero-emission solution.

Material handling appliances

Hydrogen fuel cells are an affordable, efficient and sustainable replacement for battery-powered material handling equipment.

Unmanned systems

Unmanned systems powered by fuel cells operate longer than their battery-powered counterparts, with the same advantages of low heat and noise signature.

Critical infrastructure

The high reliability and low maintenance of fuel cell backup power supply systems make the choice easy, effective and safe. Fuel cell backup power supply systems offer a number of advantages over batteries or diesel generators.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of hydrogen?


High energy requirements

The production of hydrogen requires enormous amounts of energy


Only when hydrogen is produced from renewable energies can we consider this an energy turnaround

High costs for production and infrastructure

A single hydrogen filling station costs 1 million €


Fast refuelling

Cost parity already in two years

Green hydrogen could reach cost parity with conventional fuels within two years, given that hydrogen is produced with wind energy

Hydrogen has a high energy density

Hydrogen has the potential to replace gas and coal

High savings potential for heavy vehicles

Especially for buses, trucks, ships and trains, the double power density of hydrogen leads to operating times twice as long as if lithium batteries were used

Energy storage thanks to high energy density

Hydrogen has great potential not only as a fuel but also as an energy storage system

Easy transport and storage

Well suited for areas such as energy-intensive industries or logistics, which currently rely heavily on fossil fuels

Excess energy that is otherwise lost can produce green hydrogen

The previous problem of grid overload and the resulting shutdown of wind turbines can be avoided by not feeding the excess electricity into the grid but using it for electrolysis

Energy density of hydrogen

Hydrogen just a hype like 20 years ago?

We have been monitoring hydrogen technologies for 20 years

High expectations were placed on the hydrogen industry even 20 years ago

Different Hype Cycles

In the course of the last years / decades high expectations on hydrogen have not yet been fulfilled


According to a study by KPMG, hydrogen is the current megatrend for the coming years

High participation of large companies

Large companies such as Bosch, Linde and Air Liquide are now investing massively in hydrogen technology

Mature technology

Intensive research on fuel cells has been conducted in recent decades, and many practical applications have now proven the viability of this technology.

SINCE JANUARY 2019, WE HAVE BEEN INVESTING HEAVILY IN THE MEGATREND OF HYDROGEN IN OUR GREEN BENEFIT GLOBAL IMPACT FUNDHydrogen companies currently* account for about 32% of the total fund volume. (*State: 28.09.2020)

Source: ft.com (01.07.2020)


Follow the latest news about hydrogen and related topics on Twitter

Which countries promote hydrogen?

Japan is currently the leader in hydrogen technology. Research and development in this field has been supported for many years already. The “Basic Hydrogen Strategy” has been in place since 2017. This strategy primarily aims at achieving cost parity with competing fuels such as gasoline in the transport sector or liquefied natural gas (LNG) in power generation and covers the entire supply chain from production to downstream market applications.

Properly applied, hydrogen offers an opportunity to completely decarbonize Japan’s transportation sector by using fuel from a reliable strategic ally, while giving the automotive industry a new competitive edge over international rivals.


Japan launches world's first hydrogen ship (12/2019)Japan has launched the world's first ocean-going liquid hydrogen carrier as the energy-poor country works to build a global supply chain for carbon-free fuel. The launch is an important step for Japan's national energy strategy and for Kawasaki Heavy.
Japan focuses on hydrogen vehiclesWith fuel cell vehicles such as the Mirai from Toyota, Japan is relying on hydrogen more than any other country.

Further news:

July 2, 2020

The South Korean government plans to build at least two “hydrogen cities”, where hydrogen is the main fuel source for heating and cooling, transportation and electricity. In addition, the government wants to increase the number of hydrogen vehicles in the country to 850,000 and establish an effective network of hydrogen filling stations by 2030.

On July 1, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun chaired the inaugural meeting of the Hydrogen Economy Committee in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, which was attended by Hyundai Motor Group Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun and eight government ministers.

The aim of the committee is to make South Korea a leading location in the global hydrogen industry.


July 14, 2020:

South Korea outlined on Tuesday a plan to spend 114.1 trillion won ($94.6 billion) on a “New Deal” to create jobs and help the economy recover from the coronavirus fallout, partly anchored by “green” investments in electric and hydrogen cars.

The six-year plan calls for the creation of a digital infrastructure and a stronger safety net for job seekers, but its aspects of the “Green New Deal” have attracted attention as they aim to reduce the heavy dependence on fossil fuels in Asia’s fourth largest economy.

“The coronavirus pandemic has once again confirmed the urgency of responding to climate change,” President Moon Jae-in said in a speech, adding that the new projects are expected to create around 1.9 million jobs by 2025.

On 8th July the European Commission presented two EU strategies to transform its energy system:

  1. Integration of the energy system
  2. Hydrogen Strategy

Hydrogen Strategy

The EU has recognized the importance of hydrogen as it can be used to provide energy for sectors that are otherwise not suitable for electrification. Additionally, hydrogen can be used as an energy storage medium to balance varying energy flows from renewable energy sources. This requires coordinated public and private measures at EU level.

Timmermans associates considerable economic opportunities for Europe with the desired climate neutrality. This is especially true for hydrogen:

“Europe can become a global leader with a hydrogen-based economy”.

Integration of the energy system

The EU strategy for integrating the energy system provides the framework for energy system transformation, including the hydrogen strategy.

The new energy strategy is based on 3 pillars:

  1. energy efficient cycle-oriented energy system (e.g. waste heat from factories operated with renewable hydrogen)
  2. direct electrification of the end-use sectors
  3. Use of clean fuels (e.g. green hydrogen) in sectors where electrification is difficult

A total of 38 measures are included in the strategy, which should lead to a more integrated energy system.

What kind of hydrogen will the strategy support?

The strategy focuses on renewable hydrogen, as it has the greatest decarbonization potential and is therefore the option most likely to be compatible with the EU’s goal of climate neutrality.

The strategy also recognizes that, during a transition period, other low carbon hydrogen production processes, such as carbon capture and storage or other types of low carbon electricity, will help to make existing hydrogen production cleaner, reduce emissions in the short term and expand the market.

The differentiation between the different types of hydrogen will allow the creation of customized supportive political frameworks, based on benchmarks and certifications, depending on the benefits of hydrogen in terms of reducing CO2 emissions.

How does hydrogen contribute to the implementation of the European Green Deal?

In addition to electrification with electricity from renewable sources and a more efficient and cycle-oriented use of resources, as outlined in the Energy System Integration Strategy, it is crucial for the EU to rapidly deploy clean hydrogen on a large scale to achieve its ambitious climate targets. It is the missing piece of the puzzle for a fully decarbonized economy.

By balancing fluctuations in renewable energy, hydrogen can contribute to the transition to a renewable energy system. It offers a solution for the decarbonization of fossil fuel dependent industries with high emissions, where a switch to electricity is not an option. Furthermore, it does not cause CO2 emissions and almost no air pollution.

How can hydrogen support the economy, growth and job creation?

Investment in renewable and low carbon hydrogen will be a growth driver that will be crucial against the background of recovery from the COVID 19 crisis. The Commission’s roadmap emphasizes the need to mobilize investments in environmentally friendly key technologies and value chains to promote sustainable growth and jobs. It emphasizes that clean hydrogen is one of the areas that will be crucial in the context of energy system transformation and identifies a number of ways to support this area.

Furthermore, Europe is very competitive in the production of clean hydrogen technologies and is well positioned to benefit from a global development towards the establishment of clean hydrogen as an energy carrier. The cumulative investment in renewable hydrogen in Europe could reach up to EUR 180-470 billion by 2050, and for low carbon fossil hydrogen could be in the range of EUR 3-18 billion. The emergence of a hydrogen value chain for a variety of industries and other end uses, combined with EU leadership in renewable energy technologies, could directly and indirectly create jobs for up to 1 million people. Analysts estimate that 24% of global energy demand could be met with clean hydrogen by 2050, representing an annual turnover of about EUR 630 billion.

Source: ec.europa.eu


 Green hydrogen has the potential to become the climate-friendly oil of tomorrow


Green hydrogen is central to achieving the Paris climate protection goals: With its help it is possible to transform Germany’s largest greenhouse gas emitters in a climate-friendly way and at the same time strengthen Germany as a technology location. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is already funding a large number of scientific projects in the field of hydrogen.

German government stands behind hydrogenIn the National Innovation Program Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology NIP II (2016 2026), the Federal Government is supporting the market launch of the technologies with the funding guidelines for research and development and for market activation.
BMVI funding for hydrogen projects- Funds of around 250 million euros have been made available until 2019; the financial planning in the 2019 budget provides for a further 481 million euros until 2022.
- So far, a total of 1.4 billion euros has been made available for technology promotion and demonstration projects
- So far, 50 public hydrogen filling stations for passenger cars have been promoted and a further 20 filling stations approved in 2018
100th hydrogen filling station plannedAs part of Im NIP II, the 100th hydrogen filling station is scheduled to open in spring 2020
Targeted funding until 2021 (bmbf)The focus is on electrolysis, methane pyrolysis, artificial photosynthesis and fuel cells. The BMBF is already investing 180 million euros in these areas by 2021.
Additional funding under the National Hydrogen Strategy (bmbf)Within the framework of the National Hydrogen Strategy, the BMBF will continue to promote the development of new climate-friendly hydrogen technologies. More than 300 million Euro are available for this purpose until 2023 from the climate fund alone.
International CooperationIn Germany, wind and sun do not provide enough energy to meet the demand for green hydrogen in the future. The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion currently assumes that Germany will have to import around 45 million tons of hydrogen by 2050. As part of the National Hydrogen Strategy, the German government is therefore focusing on cooperation with Africa, where sufficient land and potential for solar and wind energy is available

Source: bmbf.de, bmvi.de


  • The energy system across the US is evolving
  • Hydrogen is key to overcoming these challenges
  • The time to boost support for hydrogen is now
  • Investment is needed to lay the groundwork for hydrogen solutions

Hydrogen Roadmap of the USA

Phase 1 - 2020-2022- First dedicated hydrogen production for mobility
- Installation of medium-sized electrolysis sytems (10 -50 MW)
-Second-generation FCEVs and fueling stations for light-duty vehicles, buses, and material-handling vehicles
- First-generation FCEVs and fueling stations for heavy-duty vehicles
Phase 2 - 2023-2025- Construction of the first large electrolysis plants with 50+ MW
- Hydrogen pipeline/delivery systems in industry clusters
- Second-generation FCEVs and fueling stations for HDVs
Phase 3 - 2026-2030- Development of electrolytic hydrogen production with dedicated renewables and nuclear
- Scale up of hydrogen equipment production
Phase 4 - 2031+- Expanding use of hydrogen across sectors, enabling further cost reduction and performance improvement, increasing further expansion of use across sector
- Competition of electrolytic hydrogen production with SMR/ATR + CCS on cost, providing significant sector coupling with electricity

Source: fchea.org


China produces 22 tons of hydrogen per year, which is about one third of the world market. About 67% of it is produced from fossil fuels (mainly coal), 30% as a by-product from industrial processes and only 3% is produced by renewable energies.

Compared to other countries, China still has a high catch-up potential when it comes to green hydrogen.

Information for investors

What opportunities are there for investors to invest in hydrogen?

  • Individual shares
  • Funds with a high hydrogen content (such as our green benefit Global Impact Fund with 32% hydrogen
  • Certificates on hydrogen indices

The fund "green benefit Global Impact" is one of the few funds in Europe investing in the key technology hydrogen

Examples of pure-players* in the hydrogen field

Emission-free fuel cell electric vehicles will positively change the lives of the next generation. It’s about making this world a better place for our children and for their children.

Headquarter Burnaby, Canada
Employees 700
Foundation 1979
Annual revenue USD 106.3 million (2019)
Market cap USD 3.3 billion (June 14, 2020)

Good to know

  • Fuel cell powered vehicles from Ballard Power have now covered more than 50 million kilometers, which corresponds to about 1250 trips around the world, compared to only 30 million km at the end of January 2020 (4th Aug 2020).
  • Ballard celebrates its 25th birthday on the Nasdaq (25th May 2020)


Weichai Power Co., Ltd.

Weichai is Ballard's largest shareholder and is a leading automotive and equipment manufacturer specializing in the production of powertrains, automobiles, intelligent logistics, automotive parts and components.

Broad-Ocean Motor Co., Ltd.

Broad Ocean Motor Co., Ltd. is a world-leading manufacturer of engines that power small and specialized electrical machines for electric vehicles (EVs), including buses, commercial and passenger vehicles, and for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).

Anglo American Platinum

Anglo American Platinum is one of the largest mining companies in the world and the leading primary producer of platinum group metals

Nisshinbo Group

The Nisshinbo Group is active in four strategic business areas: electronics, automotive brakes, precision instruments, chemicals, textiles, paper and real estate.

Source: ballard.com


Nel ASA, is the world market leader for electrolysis and hydrogen filling stations. The company provides solutions for the production, storage and distribution of hydrogen from renewable energies. The company’s hydrogen solutions cover the entire value chain from hydrogen production to the manufacture of hydrogen filling stations and offer electric vehicles with fuel cells the same refuelling and range as conventional vehicles.

Headquarter Oslo, Norway
Employees 350
Foundation 1927
Annual revenue NOK 519 million (2019), [approx USD 54 million].
Market cap NOK 26.4 billion (June 2020) [approx, USD 2.7 billion].


Water electrolyzers/hydrogen generators

With more than 3,500 reliable, cost-effective electrolyzers installed worldwide, Nel Hydrogen is the recognized industry leader in alkali and proton exchange membrane (PEM) water electrolysis.

Hydrogen refuelling station

H2Station® is the new generation of fast 70MPa refuelling of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV).

Hydrogen Solutions


Good to know

  • Since 1927 more than 3,500 hydrogen solutions delivered in over 80 countries worldwide
  • Current order backlog: ~ 510 million NOK combined with an unprecedented order situation. (02/2020)

Source: nelhydrogen.com


Plug Power Inc. is an alternative energy technology provider focused on the design, development, commercialization and manufacturing of hydrogen fuel cell systems for the industrial off-road and stationary energy markets. The company’s product line includes GenKey, GenDrive, GenFuel, GenCare and ReliOn. GenKey offers customers solutions for the conversion of their forklift trucks GenDrive is a hydrogen-powered proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell system. GenCare is an ongoing maintenance program for GenDrive fuel cells and GenFuel products. ReliOn is a stationary fuel cell solution. It provides scalable, modular PEM fuel cell power to support the backup and grid support needs of the telecommunications, transportation and utility sectors.

Headquarter Latham, USA
Employees 835 (31.12.2019)
Foundation 1999
Annual revenue USD 230.2 million (2019)
Market cap 2.9 billion USD (15.7.2020)


  • Several products that are very easy to handle
  • Strong cost and weight reduction of fuel cell modules within the last years
  • Expected cost reduction of 25% within the next 5-6 years
  • Already 10 years of research and development work are invested in the products


  • 50% of the revenue share is generated with Walmart and Amazon
  • The rest is widely spread with customers like BMW, Daimler, Michelin, Home Depot, FedEx etc.

Good to know

Q2 2020:

  • Delivery of 2,800 GenDrive fuel cell systems (new record)
  • Commissioning of three hydrogen filling stations
  • Installation of 5000 fuel cells since the beginning of the year

FuelCell Energy, Inc. (NASDAQ: FCEL) is a leading global provider of clean, efficient and affordable fuel cell solutions configured to deliver, recover and store energy. The company offers comprehensive turnkey solutions that include everything from project planning and installation to long-term operation and maintenance of the fuel cell system.

Headquarter Danbury, USA
Employees 300
Foundation 1969
Annual revenue USD 60.7 million (2019)
Market cap 0.6 billion USD (June 14, 2020)


Extremely clean

FuelCell Energy power plants convert fuels such as clean natural gas or renewable biogas into electricity, heat and water through an electrochemical reaction within the fuel cells. This combustion-free power generation process produces electricity that is virtually free of pollutants, supports customers' sustainability goals and promotes public health in surrounding communities.

Highly efficient

Our power plants have an electrical efficiency of 47 to 60 percent and can achieve an overall thermal efficiency of up to 90 percent in a combined heat and power (CHP) configuration, depending on the application.

Easy installation on site

On one hectare of land there are 10 megawatts of fuel cell plants, which are sufficient to supply electricity to about 10,000 households of average size in the USA. By comparison, similar annual electricity generation from intermittent solar power in the northeastern United States would require about 395 acres of land

Versatile fuel flexible solutions

Source: fuelcellenergy.com


ITM Power Plc designs and manufactures products for hydrogen gas generation based on Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) technology.

Headquarter Sheffield, Great Britain
Employees 140
Foundation 2001
Annual revenue GBP 4.6 million (2018)
Market cap GBP 1,2 billion (Aug 2020)


PEM Technology from ITM Power

offers durability and self-pressure compensation

Fast response

enables participation in primary and secondary network balancing markets.

Full integration

means that all necessary subsystems are included by default.

Modular design

allows flexibility in sizing using proven technology and design.

Source: itm-power.com


Powercell Sweden AB is a Swedish-based company active in the field of clean energy. It is engaged in the development, manufacture and sale of drive systems using fuel cell and conversion technology. Its systems work with both fossil and renewable fuels and convert them into hydrogen that powers power plants.

Headquarter Gothenburg, Sweden
Employees 50
Foundation 2008
Annual revenue 66 Mio. Euro (2019)
Market cap 1.5 billion euros (June 19 2020)

Fields of application

  • Telecommunications
  • Transport
  • Energy supply of buildings
  • Military

Source: powercell.se


dynaCERT Inc. produces, distributes and installs a technology for the reduction of CO2 emissions used in combustion engines. Within the framework of the hydrogen economy, which is becoming more and more important internationally, they produce hydrogen and oxygen on demand by electrolysis with their patented technology. These are intended to optimize combustion via air supply and contribute to lower CO2 emissions and higher fuel efficiency.

Headquarter York, Canada
Employees 51 (2019)
Foundation 2004
Annual revenue 1.37 Mio CAD (Aug 2020), approx. 1.02 Mio USD
Market cap 225.47 Mio CAD (Aug 2020), approx 168.45 Mio USD


  • Hydrogen technology for diesel engines
  • Reduction of emissions from existing diesel vehicles
  • Germany Innovation Award
    ABB (general operating permit) from TÜV Süd
  • Amortization of the costs after approx. 1 year
  • Bridge technology with high global market potential
  • Alternative sources of income through vehicle telematics software (HydraLyticaä)


Savings of

  • 88 % NOx
  • 54 % Fine dust pollution
  • 9 % CO2
  • 52 % hydrocarbon
  • 9 % fuel consumption

Source: ft.com


Headquarter Horsham, United Kingdom
Employees 191
Foundation 2004
Annual revenue 17.20 million GBP (Aug 2020)
Market cap 865.70 million GBP (Aug 2020)



SteelCell® is a world-leading, fuel-flexible system and can generate electricity from conventional fuels such as natural gas and from sustainable fuels such as biogas, ethanol or hydrogen with very high efficiency

Fields of application


SteelCell® technology is best suited for heavy payload and long distance transportation applications. In partnership with Weichai Power, Ceres has developed a unique range extender system for electric vehicles (EV) that operates with high efficiency and very low emissions.

Data Center

SteelCell® technology meets the demanding reliability, efficiency, cost and load tracking requirements of data center applications. It has been proven to achieve electrical efficiencies of over 60% in a U.S. Department of Energy program with partner Cummins Inc.


SteelCell® is ideal for commercial combined heat and power (CHP) applications. Today, our customers' systems run on natural gas to provide clean energy and hot water in a highly efficient, low-carbon way.

Decentralized generation

SteelCell® technology delivers low-carbon electricity with higher efficiency than electricity from the centralized grid. Because the technology is modular, it can be installed in 1kW systems for domestic use up to 10s or 100s kW for vehicle charging or grid reinforcement.

Source: ceres.tech


* What are pure players?

Pure Players are companies that are only active in a certain sector, such as hydrogen or solar. This ensures that conglomerates, which often have a certain – albeit small – percentage in nuclear energy or similar sectors that we exclude, will not find their way into our portfolio. It is therefore purer (pure) and easier to assess sustainability criteria.

Hydrogen in the course of history

Hydrogen FAQs

What is a fuel cell?

A fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen from the air to generate electrical energy efficiently, quietly and reliably. The only by-products are water and heat.

Fuel cells generate electricity without combustion, which means that unlike internal combustion engines, they produce little (if any) noise, vibration, air pollution or greenhouse gases and operate at high efficiency over a wide load range.

Unlike batteries, fuel cells do not require replacement or lengthy recharging when their fuel is exhausted. Because fuel cells store their fuel in external storage tanks, the maximum operating range of a fuel cell powered device is limited only by the amount of fuel that can be carried.

Where does hydrogen fuel come from?

The way in which hydrogen is produced is flexible, depending on the raw materials and energy sources available. Hydrogen can be produced in large quantities from primary energy sources such as fossil fuels (coal, oil or natural gas), as a by-product of various chemical processes (chlor-alkali, refinery products) and from alternative resources such as biomass, biogas and waste materials. Hydrogen can also be produced by water electrolysis, which uses electricity from renewable sources such as wind or sun to split the hydrogen and oxygen elements. Hydrocarbon fuels such as natural gas, butane, methanol, gasoline and others can be used in conjunction with a fuel processor that extracts a stream of hydrogen from the original fuel.

Source: ballard.com