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Economic Complexity of Green Hydrogen Production Technologies - A Trade Data-based Analysis of Country-sepcific Industrial Preconditions


Countries with high energy demand but limited renewable energy potential are planning to meet part of their future energy needs by importing green hydrogen. For potential exporting countries, in addition to sufficient renewable resources, industrial preconditions are also relevant for the successful implementation of green hydrogen production value chains. A list of 36 “Green H2 Products” needed for stand-alone hydrogen production plants was defined and their economic complexity was analyzed using international trade data from 1995 to 2019. These products were found to be comparatively complex to produce and represent an opportunity for countries to enter new areas of the product space through green diversification. Large differences were revealed between countries in terms of industrial preconditions and their evolution over time. A detailed analysis of nine MENA countries showed that Turkey and Tunisia already possess industrial know-how in various green hydrogen technology components and perform only slightly worse than potential European competitors, while Algeria, Libya, and Saudi Arabia score the lowest in terms of calculated hydrogen-related green complexity. These findings are supported by statistical tests showing that countries with a higher share of natural resources rents in their gross domestic product score significantly lower on economic and green complexity. The results thus provide new perspectives for assessing the capabilities of potential hydrogen-producing countries, which may prove useful for policymakers and investors. Simultaneously, this paper contributes to the theory of economic complexity by applying its methods to a new subset of products, and using a dataset with long-term coverage.

Funding source: The main content of the paper is closely related to the research work in the HYPAT – H2 POTENTIAL ATLAS – project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF as part of the “Hydrogen Republic of Germany” ideas competition in the basic research module on green hydrogen.
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics
Countries: Germany ; Netherlands

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