Digital value creation in a green hydrogen economy

Results of Fraunhofer’s PLATON research project

Hybrid value creation model for the green hydrogen economy
Hybrid value creation model for the green hydrogen economy

Three Fraunhofer institutes in Germany – IAO, IIS and IMW – have been tackling key questions on the nature of digital value creation in relation to green hydrogen. The research comes as part of the PLATON project which has been investigating the platform economy in the hydrogen sector. The results of the project have now been published in a study. The outcome is a hybrid value creation model that helps companies to take a systematic approach to digital value creation.

Enormous political and economic effort is required if hydrogen is to become a new lead market in Germany and if Germany is to establish itself as a lead supplier for hydrogen technologies. For a lead market means cultivating green hydrogen as a new and significant economic sector within Germany and Europe over the longer term and developing an awareness of its role in ensuring our lasting prosperity. Alongside the German government’s multi-billion-euro subsidy programs and the high level of investment in hydrogen technologies by businesses, a greater consideration of digital value creation is imperative to reach these targeted goals.

Thinking digitally from the outset

Only when the digital world is taken into account – from data generation right through to platform-based approaches – will the high level of investment in the lead market for green hydrogen pay off. This, in any case, is what experience tells us from other economic areas, e.g., manufacturing and mobility, in which the share of value created is shifting increasingly from the physical to the digital domain. Attractive profits and rapid revenue growth are often no longer achieved by companies that develop and market purely physical products and services, but are instead obtained by those that also successfully implement the ideas of the data and platform economy, invest in digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data and the internet of things (IoT), and transpose these into new business models on a large scale.

To help companies establish digital value creation within a hydrogen economy, a hybrid model based on three value creation dimensions was developed as part of the research project. The first two dimensions incorporate physical value creation while the third dimension illustrates digital value creation:

  • Horizontal (physical) value creation: from renewable energy to electricity to the production and utilization of green hydrogen
  • Vertical (physical) value creation: from individual components to assemblies to entire systems
  • Digital value creation: from data from the physical world to connectivity to data-oriented and platform-based business models

… Read more in the latest H2-International e-Journal, Aug 2021


Dr. Tassilo Schuster – Fraunhofer-Institut für Integrierte Schaltungen IIS, Nürnberg; Dr. Sebastian Haugk – Fraunhofer-Zentrum für Internationales Management und Wissensökonomie IMW, Leipzig; Dr. Anna-Lena Klingler – Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO, Stuttgart

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