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The Green Regulars' Table Innovation

The “Hamburger Hochbahn” is ordering hydrogen buses, Airbus is developing a hydrogen-powered passenger aircraft and the Moorburg coal-fired power plant is to be converted into one of the world's largest plants for the production of hydrogen. Since hydrogen, provided it is produced with green electricity, is considered a central element for a climate-neutral economy 

Barbara Makowka was several steps ahead of this time. The first ideas began as early as 2004 in an Italian restaurant. The graduate in business and economy, who, among other things, until then had worked in the wind power industry, was given a new assignment at the time: she was to "set up something on the internet about hydrogen". At that time, however, the topic of hydrogen and fuel cells was supposedly only something for chemistry and technology freaks, whereupon Makowka began to ask around, to research and finally to realise that in Hamburg, in addition to scientists, there were already some personalities from business and politics who considered hydrogen to be the element of the future. She wrote them a letter by post, as was still customary at the time, and invited them to an exchange of ideas, which she called the "hydrogen round table" and initially just wanted to learn more herself.

Today, Barbara Makowka is considered a hydrogen expert, knows the latest developments and the people behind them. The Italian restaurant has had to shut down in the meantime and Makowka now sits on the management board of the “Schutzgemeinschaft Deutscher Wald” in Hamburg, but the hydrogen round table still exists. More than 60 people are invited twice a year: PhD students and professors meet entrepreneurs who are testing their inventions, and entrepreneurs and inventors meet investors who want to support them. Together, they develop ideas on how the future hydrogen economy in Hamburg can and should look, for example with modern buses and aircrafts.

"Innovation doesn't happen when you invest money in new technology," says Makowka, "it's important that a novelty is considered sensible, and that laws and framework conditions are created for it." This, in turn, can only be achieved if innovations are understood not only by scientists or technology experts, but also by an interested public. But registering for a technical workshop? Who would do that? That's why it's important to have informal formats that inspire career changers and experts - such as the Hydrogen Round Table in Hamburg.

Editors: Hanna Gersmann and Katja Tamchina

Foto: Wasserstoff-Tankstelle, Hydrogeit, Sven Geitmann