The Maritime sector can shape the energy transition and strengthen Germany as a place for business and industry

German Maritime Centre presents the study “Maritime hydrogen users and their share of Germany's hydrogen demand”
25 July 2023

The maritime sector is a key player in the implementation of the energy transition. In the long term, it will need more than > 3.5 million tonnes of hydrogen or H2 derivatives annually.

The German government’s climate protection targets stipulate that emissions in Germany are to be reduced by 65% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and that climate neutrality is to be achieved by 2045.

Renewable hydrogen (H2) is one of the non-fossil substances whose potential uses are being discussed in various industries. In this regard, the maritime sector in Germany plays a crucial role because hydrogen must be imported and distributed. Unlike almost any other sector, it can advance and shape the energy transition, within and for Germany, as well as internationally.

”The substitution of climate-relevant substances is becoming a competitive factor. The maritime sector can switch its energy needs to non-fossil fuels and enable the energy transition for other industries.”Claus Brandt made this statement at the opening of the event on maritime hydrogen users.

The study ”Maritime Hydrogen Users and their Share of Germany’s Hydrogen Demand”, commissioned by the German Maritime Centre and carried out by Ludwig-Bölkow-Systemtechnik GmbH (LBST), investigated the transition to various renewable hydrogen technologies and the potential needs of the maritime industry. Based on interviews with experts, literature evaluations and LBST’s own projections, the study explored the possible future role of green hydrogen and its derivatives (e.g. methanol, ammonia) in the maritime sub-sectors of shipping, ports, shipbuilding, suppliers, and marine technology, highlighting key findings and recommendations.

The study concludes that an annual demand of more than > 119 TWh (>3.5 million tonnes) of hydrogen or its derivatives can be expected for the entire maritime sector in the long term.

Of this, shipping (and international maritime shipping in particular) dominates the maritime sector with a share of over 95%. The demand generated by the approximately 1,700 ships of the German merchant fleet is worldwide, as the fleet operates internationally and does not bunker exclusively in Germany. It requires approximately 117 TWh (3.4 million tonnes) per year, with the majority of this demand expected to materialise in the long term.

”Therefore, the study determines not only the demand for hydrogen in Germany, which is also generated by international shipowners, but also examines and discusses the anticipated international demand generated by German shipowners,” says Dr. Leo Diehl, project manager at LBST.

The additional hydrogen demand is accounted for by:
– inland and coastal shipping with an estimated demand of 1-3.8 TWh (30,000 to 115,000 tonnes) of hydrogen per year.
– shipbuilding and the supply industry, with an estimated demand of 0.26 – 0.4 TWh (8,000-12,000 tonnes) of hydrogen per year.
– ports, with a demand of 1.3 TWh (40,000 tonnes) of H2 per year, if their electricity supply can be at least partly met by hydrogen. The port handling equipment will require about 0.16 TWh (5,000 tonnes of hydrogen) per year.

”Ports have a special role to play in the energy transition, they can become important energy hubs and thus central places for bunkering with renewable fuels, and they must implement sector coupling,” says Runa Jörgens, Head of Topics and Projects at the German Maritime Centre.

The decarbonisation of shipping and the development of a coordinated and joint green fuel strategy is not only a crucial basis for a successful energy transition, but above all an opportunity for German industry and ports.

”All of these processes”, says Martin Zerta, project manager at LBST, ”require continuous coordination and moderation. A coordinating platform could provide the appropriate framework for this and also support the exchange between the maritime sub-sectors with other sectors and stakeholders of the energy transition.”

Please feel free to call me if you need further information or would like to have a conversation with those responsible for the project.​

Presse Contact:

Dr. Regine Klose-Wolf
Head of Communication
+49 40 9999 698 -51
+49 1590 189 1929

In the study, energy-consuming processes for each of the individual sub-sectors (shipping, ports, shipbuilding and suppliers, marine technology) were analysed to determine whether and how hydrogen solutions can cover their requirements. Furthermore, the technical readiness (Technology Readiness Level – TRL) was classified in each case and a potential feasibility was developed. Specific scenarios for hydrogen applications in the maritime sub-sectors were developed and an extrapolation of the potential demand for hydrogen or derivatives per sub-sector and an initial classification of the results were made. The statistics of the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) and the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV) serve as the decisive basis for data on shipping.