Around one billion people worldwide live without a reliable electricity connection. This meand that environmentally harmful diesel generators are therefore still a mainstay, particularly in the provision of local energy supplies. A new publication by NOW GmbH reveals the circumstances under which green hydrogen and fuel cell technologies are potentially worthwhile as an environmentally friendly alternative in decentralised energy supply.

As part of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection’s (BMUV – Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, nukleare Sicherheit und Verbraucherschutz) Export Initiative or Environmental Protection (EXI) funding programme, NOW GmbH today has published a new paper. It examines the prospects for the economic viability of environmentally friendly hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in decentralised energy supply. Among the factors it analyses are various investment and operating costs that can influence the economic viability of the technology. The result: Under certain parameters, the local use of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies already offers an economical alternative to environmentally harmful diesel generators. The paper is published in both German and English.

Nilgün Parker, Head of Division for Sustainable Finance Policy, Environment and Foreign Trade Promotion, BMUV: “Global environmental and climate protection will succeed if people at the local level also benefit from renewable energy potential. Decentralised energy systems with renewable hydrogen and fuel cells – often in combination with battery storage systems – ideally reconcile local value creation and environmental benefits. The results of the EXI publication show particularly promising future prospects for the international use of the technology. International locations with a higher potential for renewable energy generation offer framework conditions that could make its use even more economically viable. With EXI, we are therefore committed to ensuring that ‘Made in Germany’ GreenTech technologies spread worldwide and that sustainability becomes a competitive advantage.”

Fields of application, costs and examples of use in practice: Detailed results of the publication

The publication provides an overview of the technology and highlights the socio-economic significance of a reliable, environmentally friendly decentralised energy supply, particularly in an international context. The paper presents various system options and use cases for green hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in decentralised energy supply. Furthermore, different techno-economic application examples are compared with each other. The publication lists technical, economic and application-specific success factors and presents scenarios for economic operation of the technology based on existing data availability using the example of primary energy or emergency power supply in Germany.  Subsequently, the paper presents results from potential analyses of local applications of the technology in Chile, Nigeria and the Philippines. In the process, the publication emphasises the importance of international data for improving the economic viability assessment and refers to the cooperation between NOW GmbH and DIHK Service GmbH as part of the ‘Chambers for GreenTech’, which are already working on this. Overall, the new publication provides impulses for measures that could help to establish green hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in decentralised energy supply worldwide. It concludes by presenting projects funded by EXI that have been realised to date and explains criteria for future funding.

To the publication:


About EXI (Export Initiative Environmental Protection):

Since 2016, the BMUV has supported German GreenTech SMEs with its EXI funding programme to disseminate innovative environmental technologies that are ‘Made in Germany’. Optimal environmental conditions are to be created in the target countries for sustainable development and better environmental and life conditions in those countries. By supporting suitable infrastructures, the EXI projects help to implement green public services and environmental services worldwide. NOW GmbH has been responsible for EXI’s focus on green hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in decentralized energy supply since 2021. As an EXI project management agency,  Zukunft – Umwelt – Gesellschaft (ZUG) gGmbH (Future – Environment – Society) has been supporting the Federal Environment Ministry in fulfilling its tasks since 2022. More information on EXI can be found here.

About NOW GmbH

Since 2008, NOW GmbH has been supporting the federal government’s targets in its climate and industrial policy. The tasks of the federally-owned company include developing, monitoring and evaluating funding programmes about climate-neutral mobility and energy supply. NOW GmbH experts supervise projects in the areas of hydrogen, fuel cells, battery and renewable fuels.  They reimagine mobility and fuels for cars, buses, trains, commercial vehicles, ships and airplanes, and support the establishment and further development of charging infrastructure and hydrogen refuelling stations for cars and trucks. More information on NOW can be found here.