20 (non-)university Austrian institutions are among the top 3 in Europe in research on green hydrogen technologies. These competences are bundled in the current “H2 Research Map”. Conclusion: Styria represents around 60 percent of these pioneering achievements, the focus is shifting to industrial applications and the number of researchers has increased by around 50 (!) percent in the last two years to almost 480 people.
As predicted, the EU Green Deal has led to a high dynamic and concentration for industrial, grid-serving and mobile applications of hydrogen on the way to climate neutrality. This is also underlined by the brand-new update of the H2 Research Map Austria. Together with the mobility cluster ACstyria, the cluster organization of the Green Tech Valley has taken a close look at Austria’s university and non-university research institutions – in order to present the thematic focal points, the size and equipment of the laboratories as well as the contact persons for cooperations with companies in a bundled form.
Strong increase in researchers in hydrogen technologies
A total of 20 institutes with 478 hydrogen researchers (full-time equivalents) were recorded here across Austria. This means an increase of about 50 percent compared to the last survey in 2021. And: More than 60 % of Austria’s hydrogen researchers are concentrated in the Green Mark, followed by Vienna.
The TU Graz campus, with the K1 centers HyCentA, Large Engines Competence Center LEC and BEST Bioenergy and Sustainable Technologies, as well as other TU Graz institutes with around 190 researchers in these fields, forms Austria’s hotspot in hydrogen research. This also places Austria among the top 3 in the EU, after Jülich (Germany) and Sintef (Norway). Other national centers are the University of Leoben and the Vienna University of Technology. These lighthouses, which are joined by other (non-)university development centers, together form the cornerstones of the H2 Research Map Austria.
Shift in focus towards industrial use
The research focus of the individual institutes and centers has shifted slightly in recent years, explains Bernhard Puttinger, Cluster Managing Director of Green Tech Valley: “The current issues have changed from H2 production, storage & distribution to increased research activities for H2 use in industry. This shows that the developments here clearly go beyond pure basic research and innovative applications are being established in cooperation with companies in the state.”
Research Minister Barbara Eibinger-Miedl emphasizes that this can only be achieved with strong, joint efforts: “Research, development and innovation are the basis for successfully mastering the green transformation. Hydrogen-based technologies in particular offer a multitude of opportunities here. Local universities, research centers and companies are engaged in numerous projects to continuously improve and expand the potential uses of hydrogen. This strengthens our position as a showcase region in this field.”
ACstyria Managing Director Thomas Krenn also emphasizes the great potential that hydrogen research holds for industry, especially in the automotive sector, and which must be leveraged: “Produced sustainably, hydrogen offers considerable potential, especially with regard to the decarbonization of the transport sector. As a result, the energy carrier has gained considerable importance in recent years. We are convinced that hydrogen in mobility can make an important contribution to sustainable mobility transformation. We will provide significant support for this development in order to help create highly skilled jobs and promote innovative strength in this country.”