The SEA20 network, cities, ports, industry actors and academics gathered together from all corners of the globe for the second digital call in the midst of the Covid19 pandemic. This time, we took a look at the current projections for the Covid19 recovery as societies begin to open up. The discussion was focused on hydrogen as a possible tool for creating a smarter, more efficient, and sustainable maritime ecosystem moving forward.


Martin Bech Holte, Partner at McKinsey & Co, stated that the recovery will be driven by an acceleration of three megatrends which will all be visible in local marine ecosystems. The first trend he pointed to was stating the obvious with regards to digital adoption, which has taken a ten-year leap in three months. This change is already visible across sectors and is likely to accelerate. Second, local resilience in public and private sectors will be seen, especially in supply chains. Finally, the pandemic has increased awareness of the global economy’s vulnerability to crisis, which will drive the much needed focus on sustainable solutions.


Berndt Heid, Senior Partner at McKinsey & Co, who has gathered a set of 25 000 data points on hydrogen globally, stated that within the past two years we have seen an unprecedented global momentum in the hydrogen field. According to him, hydrogen adoption is required if we are to be serious about decarbonizing our energy systems. Mr Heid expressed that hydrogen is not, and will not be a single application solution, but its role could be crucial in cutting CO2 emissions globally across sectors. The supply of renewable hydrogen trajectory is estimated to grow significantly in upcoming years, as investments in electrolysis projects (part of the hydrogen production process) have seen a massive growth in the decades to come. Mr Heid did not hesitate in his estimates that the current pandemic will be an accelerator for the investments  – stating that this is ‘an unprecedented momentum’ for hydrogen in various local ecosystems and across value chains. This phenomenon is something that his team at McKinsey have never witnessed before in their decade-long work on this specific energy solution.


In Germany’s case, the government happened to announce an investment of 300 million euros inrenewable hydrogen technology on June 8. Germany has been developing its hydrogen investments for a while now, and Martin Eckhard, who works with hydrogen projects in Region Heide, emphasised that varied solutions for hydrogen do exist, but in many places, including in Central Europe, there is a need for an increased market demand. This, as estimated by McKinsey & Co, will most likely grow in the upcoming next years.


Based on the data set that McKinsey & Co has gathered, green and blue hydrogen will be the needed carrier in a future global energy market.  Berndt stated that: ‘Maritime routes and ports play an important role in this transition; not only for the usage of the industrial clusters around it, but also being the linking points to establish these international routes.’ 


Leon Stille, of the Energy Delta Institute and the first hydrogen valley in Europe, highlighted how hydrogen projects need to involve several actors across the chain, including from ports andcompanies – but also public actors. Others joining the call also emphasised that in order to make a successful hydrogen project, the key ingredient is the activation of several stakeholders from the local ecosystems to create a joint effort.


A recording of the call can be found here.

Special thanks to those taking part.