Interview with Head of Department Leony Ohle

“Green hydrogen and its derivatives are an indispensable building block for the decarbonized future.

Green hydrogen is considered an essential building block of a sustainable energy system based on renewable energies. IKEM is currently involved in around 15 projects on this topic, covering the entire value chain – from the production, transportation and certification to the use of hydrogen and its derivatives in industry and transport. In this interview, Leony Ohle, Head of the Energy Law Department, talks about the reasons for hydrogen as an energy carrier, gaps in the legal framework and IKEM’s work on this topic.

Governments around the world are investing billions in the research and development of hydrogen technologies. Why is this element so important?

Hydrogen can be used in particular wherever direct electrification is not possible or not practical. This affects energy-intensive sectors such as the cement, steel and chemical industries, as well as heavy goods vehicles and air traffic. The German government’s new power plant strategy also assumes that hydrogen will be used in “H2-ready” gas-fired power plants to generate electricity. Our energy systems will simply not be able to manage without fuels for the time being, and green hydrogen and its derivatives, such as methanol or ammonia, are an indispensable building block for the decarbonized future

What role does international cooperation play in this?

The hydrogen economy will be global right from the start. Both the European and German hydrogen strategies assume that there will be a considerable need to import green hydrogen. At the same time, countries such as Namibia and Australia with large renewable generation potential are in the process of building up large production capacities for export. This creates many opportunities and possibilities for economic cooperation on both sides, which should be used and shaped in the interests of climate and environmental protection.

What challenges is the hydrogen economy currently facing in Germany?

The hydrogen economy – according to the political consensus – is urgently needed for decarbonization. However, it is still in the development phase and, at least in the public perception, is in competition with the established fossil energy world. This situation must be overcome as quickly as possible in the interests of climate protection. Firstly, by preparing the scaling and driving it forward quickly. And secondly, by creating suitable financing instruments for the necessary investments

What other requirements need to be met?

The regulatory development in the last two years, accelerated by the energy crisis caused by the Russian war of aggression, has been astonishingly dynamic at both national and European level. A lot has worked well, particularly in the interaction between research and politics, and the development of the legal framework has been significantly advanced.

Nevertheless, we are not where we should be in legal and regulatory terms: For example, many investors are currently waiting for a final and nationally implemented single market regulation as well as sustainable financing for the infrastructure. The approval and certification procedures and the development of the hydrogen distribution network remain unclear. For example, there is no strategy that takes into account the new power plant strategy and aspects of municipal heat management planning.

How does IKEM support the further development of the hydrogen market?

We deal with all aspects of the hydrogen economy, both project-related and strategically. We support the development of the legal framework and identify obstacles for hydrogen projects. One example of this is our study on international hydrogen trade published in February. We are also part of the German government’s flagship project TransHyDE , in which we are supporting the development of a national hydrogen infrastructure with our legal research. Based on these analyses, we develop recommendations for legal adjustments and introduce these into the political discourse. Other focal points are research into the acceptance of infrastructure expansion and science communication, which we use to make complex relationships relating to the topic of hydrogen accessible to a wide audience.


Leony Ohle

Leony Ohle
+49 (0)30 408 1870-10

Press contact

Dennis Nill

Dennis Nill
+49 (0)30 / 408 1870 17

IKEM – Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility e.V.