New Energy Insights: Who’s got gold? – Global leaders in the Hydrogen Olympics

This article is part of our New Energy Insights series from our Energy, Infrastructure and Resources team. Stay tuned for regular updates and commentary on topical issues across the sector.

On the global stage, the momentum for hydrogen use continues to grow. This has been underpinned by a shift in national regulations and increased investment towards decarbonization with hydrogen receiving unprecedented interest and acknowledgement within the energy sector. As of the beginning of 2021, 75 countries (which together represent over half the world’s GDP) have ambitions to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, with 30 of those countries implementing specific hydrogen roadmaps to guide future investments and targets.1

In the second part of our Hydrogen Olympics series, we look to showcase the countries who are emerging as world leaders within the hydrogen industry. These nations bear the standards for other countries to follow in the Hydrogen Olympics, upholding the gold medal standards in either its production or uses.


Pro-hydrogen policies implemented and adopted by the EU and individual European nations have created the environment for many European countries to position themselves as global leaders within the emerging hydrogen energy industry.


Germany recently published a directive to support green hydrogen projects in other countries, with up to 350 million euros to be invested in hydrogen related projects worldwide by 2024. Germany has already established partnerships with countries such as Australia to support the importation of hydrogen and fund projects in hydrogen hubs in between both countries. This was solidified in the Germany-Australia Hydrogen Accord with the German government signing off on similar deals with Canada, Japan, and South Korea.

Germany’s national hydrogen strategy was released in mid-2020 and emphasizes the importation and future production of green hydrogen with ambitious goals to become a global leader in renewable technologies. The German industry is aiming to capitalize on the momentum with their selection of 62 large scale projects to be funded as a joint EU investment in hydrogen technologies.


Norway unveiled its Hydrogen strategy in June 2020, with the hope to expand the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier. Norway’s hydrogen future was established through the successes of its past, following the successful implementation of HyNor and the hydrogen highway in 2009. Initiated by heavy industrial actors such as Norsk Hydro, the project opened Norway’s first hydrogen fueling station in Stavanger in 2006 alongside an additional 3 stations opened between 2007-2009 in Porsgrunn, Oslo and Lier respectively. The 600km hydrogen highway successfully launched in March 2009 in Oslo, with all stations except the one in Stavanger still in operation.

Norway has also identified two zones in the North Sea for the development of up to 4.5 GW of offshore wind capacity, in the hopes of assisting their oil and gas industry’s transition to a low-carbon business model. HEGRA (short for Herøya Green Ammonia), launched in Norway on 16 August 2021, is one such company looking to decarbonize and electrify to enable large-scale green ammonia production.

North America


Canada has aimed for loftier targets with its hydrogen strategy, anticipating that, by 2050, hydrogen will be able to deliver up to 30% of Canada’s end-use energy. This includes envisioning a sufficient hydrogen supply network that is inclusive of both large-scale centralized plants in natural gas-rich provinces or regions as well as smaller-scale electrolytic distributed production closer to demand centers.Canada remains the world’s fourth largest producer of hydropower with most of its operations based out of Ontario which is host to one of the largest operating nuclear plants in the world. The opportunity for Canada here is abundantly clear, with both sources of zero-carbon electricity having the ability to enable green hydrogen production.


Whilst large parts of Asia continue to place a heavy reliance on fossil fuels, the current state of hydrogen policy making, and production is continuing to rise from year to year.


Japan continues to further future initiatives to implement offshore wind to produce green hydrogen. Planning continues towards the construction of a 110 MW offshore wind farm and hydrogen facility in the coastal city of Ishikari continues with the aim that it will exceed production of up to approximately 550 tonnes of hydrogen a year.

Japan continues to establish itself as a world leader in investments in hydrogen technology research, investing government budgetary support of up to approximately $650 million USD in their last financial year (ending March 2021). Alongside the highly successful nature of the first Hydrogen Olympics and their ambitions to increase hydrogen consumption intake, Japan is well placed to establish itself as a hydrogen powerhouse in the years to come.


South Korea has taken a major step forward in building its hydrogen economy by forming an extensive green ammonia alliance involving 13 private firms and five public institutions. The alliance will not only produce and transport green ammonia but also extract hydrogen back from the ammonia for various uses in the hydrogen sector.  Specifically, Samsung Engineering and Doosan Heavy Industries will convert green hydrogen into green ammonia using their plants located overseas.

One of the major hydrogen hubs for the country will be based in Ulsan with talks that the hub will be the largest in Northeast Asia. Expected to be completed in 2022, it plans to utilize hydrogen from fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), local petrochemical complexes and other items to provide key infrastructure to the hub.

Much of this follows from South Korea’s hydrogen roadmap which was unveiled in 2019 and the “Green New Deal” in July of 2020 which included construction of three hydrogen cities by 2022 with the intention to add more in the future. Coupled with the enforcement of the world’s first hydrogen law earlier this year, South Korea will look to continue its progression within the industry over the next 5-10 years.


The use and future for hydrogen is heavily contingent on how many other countries are willing to meet the investment requirements to ensure a successful transition to cleaner energy uses. The global Hydrogen Council predicts that hydrogen could provide 18% of global energy demand by 2050 with an industry worth 2.5 trillion dollars annually.3

Countries such as Germany, Norway, Canada, Japan, and South Korea, who have directly invested time, resources, and money into hydrogen related programs, are firmly placed as favourites for the gold medal in the Hydrogen Olympics. Whilst they all hold the standard at present, others do not trail far behind. Chile’s national strategy was launched in November 2020, which outlined ambitious goals to become the world’s cheapest hydrogen producer by 2030 with a remarkable hydrogen production cost of less than $1.50/kg outlined in the plan. The Netherlands have aimed for at least 30% and up to 50% of final energy consumption in 2050 to be given via gaseous energy carriers such as hydrogen.4

Increased funding globally within the Hydrogen industry and the need for other nations to remain competitive against current Hydrogen leaders, should allow for the advancement of hydrogen uses and continued progression of standards required for countries to attain gold medals in the Hydrogen Olympics.

This is the second article in our Hydrogen Olympics series, exploring global hydrogen uses and its implementation at some of the world’s biggest events, with an eye towards how Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 can contribute to creating a roadmap for Brisbane 2032.

The Hamilton Locke team advises across the energy project life cycle – from project development, grid connection, financing, and construction, including the buying and selling of development and operating projects. For more information, please contact Matt Baumgurtel.