UK falling behind Germany and South Korea in its plan to increase low-carbon hydrogen and reach net zero

Research conducted by Cornwall Insight into countries that have branded themselves as potential leaders in the new hydrogen economy, has seen the UK rank 5th out of 15 countries.

The low-carbon hydrogen index explores countries with a strong potential for production or consumption of the fuel. Germany tops the index with a score of 8.1 out of 10. In comparison, the UK places 5th (6.5 out of 10) with its low-capacity target of only 5GW, offsetting its relatively high rankings for hydrogen strategy detail as well as for storage and network targets.

Hydrogen is a very versatile energy source and will have an important role to play in meeting the UK’s target for net zero by 2050, especially in the decarbonisation of the industrial sector.

Germany topped the leadership board on government funding, pledging €7bn (£5.9bn) to expand its role in green hydrogen1 domestically and €2bn (£1.7bn) for international partnerships in the context of hydrogen. The UK have pledged £240 million for government co-investment in production capacity through the Net Zero Hydrogen Fund (NZHF), but by 2030 hope to attract at least £4bn of investment to the hydrogen economy largely through private investment2.

Figure 1:  Low-carbon hydrogen index ranking

South Korea2
United Kingdom5
United States13

Source: Cornwall Insight

Naomi Potter, Lead Research Analyst at Cornwall Insight said:

“The role of low-carbon hydrogen in achieving our net zero targets has been a hot topic of conversation of late. As the UK looks to increase green energy and decarbonise its industry, hydrogen’s versatility has significant potential for use across many areas that are critical to the industrial economy including steel and chemical production.

“Our low-carbon hydrogen index identifies a real determination from the UK government to move towards a greener and more efficient energy system, as well as a recognition of the jobs and other economic advantages that could come from developing a low carbon hydrogen sector. With Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine threatening energy supply and increasing prices across Europe, investment in hydrogen will also help the UK move away from its reliance on unstable and costly energy imports. 

“The UK however has some way to go until it reaches the commitment of Germany. With significantly higher investment and a new pledge to boost hydrogen targets to triple the speed of emissions cuts, Germany is proving itself to be a global leader on hydrogen policy.

“There is significant scope for the UK to aim higher, especially in its capacity targets, with a comparatively excellent geography for hydrogen production, a high renewables output and industries with relevant skills and workforce. It is clear from our findings that the UK government needs to up its game if it wants to become and remain a major player in the low carbon hydrogen market.”

  1. Green hydrogen refers to a production method of hydrogen using electrolysis of water; blue hydrogen utilises natural gas.
  2. HM Government (2020), ‘The Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution’


Notes to Editors


The index explores countries with a strong potential for low-carbon hydrogen production or consumption, looking primarily at those which have policies and strategies to support a market for low-carbon (‘green’ and ‘blue’) hydrogen. The index will be updated quarterly, and decisions on countries included will be reviewed regularly based on regulatory developments across jurisdictions. Countries composed of several states, such as the US and Australia, are evaluated at the federal level.

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About the Cornwall Insight Group

Cornwall Insight is the pre-eminent provider of research, analysis, consulting and training to businesses and stakeholders engaged in the Australian, Great British, and Irish energy markets. To support our customers, we leverage a powerful combination of analytical capability, a detailed appreciation of regulation codes and policy frameworks, and a practical understanding of how markets function.