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Risky Business? Evaluating Hydrogen Partnerships Established by Germany, The Netherlands, and Belgium


Following the introduction of the EU’s Hydrogen Strategy in 2020 as part of the European Green Deal, some EU member states have deployed a very active hydrogen diplomacy. Germany, The Netherlands, and Belgium have been the most active ones, establishing no less than 40 bilateral hydrogen trade partnerships with 30 potential export countries in the last three years. However, concerns have been voiced about whether such hydrogen trade relationships can be economically feasible, geopolitically wise, environmentally sustainable, and socially just. This article therefore evaluates these partnerships considering three risk dimensions: economic, political, and sustainability (covering both environmental and justice) risks. The analysis reveals that the selection of partner countries entails significant trade-offs. Four groups of partner countries can be identified based on their respective risk profile: “Last Resorts”, “Volatile Ventures”, “Strategic Gambits”, and “Trusted Friends”. Strikingly, less than one-third of the agreements are concluded with countries that fall within the “Trusted Friends” category, which have the lowest overall risk profile. These findings show the need for policy makers to think much more strategically about which partnerships to pursue and to confront tough choices about which risks and trade-offs they are willing to accept.

Funding source: This research is part of the BE-HyFE project, which is a Belgian academic collaboration project, funded by the federal Energy Transition Fund by FPS Economy. More information on
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics
Countries: Belgium

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