Project: Public Engagement with Future Hydrogen Infrastructures

Reference: SRT 7/2/7

Last update: 10/04/2013 15:15:25

Objectives

The aim of the project is to provide a detailed comparison between various expert and lay public understandings of and attitudes towards the different possible infastructures for the use of hydrogen as a transport fuel.

Specific objectives are:

to provide robust insights into how best to promote the publicly acceptable development of hydrogen-fuelled transport in the UK over the long-term;

to make specific recommendations concerning how best to ensure the public acceptance of hydrogen pilot and demonstration projects and associated infrastructure; and,

to produce a set of accessible web-based introductory and scenario materials for improving public understanding of hydrogen.

Description

The project will undertake an innovative public engagement exercise, using both quantitative survey and qualitative group methods, to explore the public acceptability of a diverse set of prospective hydrogen infrastructures.

The UK Sustainable Hydrogen Energy Consortium (UKSHEC) has developed six long-term 'visions' of hydrogen energy and transport systems for the UK. Each embodies a distinctive combination of technologies for the production, distribution, storage and end-use for hydrogen and has been subjected to multi-criteria sustainability appraisal by expert stakeholders. This indicated that the social acceptability, technological feasibility, cost, environmental performance and overall sustainability of these prospective hydrogen systems are all contested.

UKSHEC has also recently undertaken an initial series of focus groups in three regions of the UK that have a history of hydrogen production and/or current demonstration projects for hydrogen energy applications (London, SW Wales, Teesside), to begin to investigate public awareness of hydrogen energy in both global and specifically regional contexts.

In sum, this research suggests that the broad interest coalition currently promoting hydrogen may be fragile, that there is potential for conflict among the public over the shape and direction of hydrogen systems, and that public acceptability research needs to take a whole systems approach, rather than focus on narrow questions of hydrogen safety and end-use.

In collaboration with UKSHEC, the project will provide a detailed comparison between various expert and lay public understandings of and attitudes towards the different possible infrastructures for the use of hydrogen as a transport fuel. A benefit of the work will be insights into how best to promote the publicly acceptable development of hydrogen fuelled transport in the UK: in terms both of the long term opportunities and challenges to be addressed in such a transition, and more specific shorter-term recommendations concerning the development of pilot and demonstration projects.

Contractor(s)

University of Salford, Institute for Social Cultural and Policy Research
The University of Salford, Salford, Greater Manchester, M5 4WT
0161 295 2819

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £121,834.00

Actual start date: 01 October 2006

Actual completion date: 14 March 2008

Publication(s)

Public Engagement with Hydrogen Infrastructures in Transport
Author: Prof Paul Bellaby, Principal Investigator & Dr Paul Upham
Publication date: 11/01/2008
Source: Institute for Social Cultural and Policy Research, University of Salford
More information: http://www.iscpr.salford.ac.uk/iscpr/resources/uploads/File/Projects/DfT%20Executive%20Summary.doc

Summary of results

  1. The aim of the project has been to engage members of the general public in deliberation about the infrastructure of production, storage and distribution that could support use of hydrogen energy in transport vehicles in the UK in the future. We started with expert stakeholders' scenarios and extrapolated from these likely change and continuity in practices and settings familiar to the public. Finally, we looked for ways of engaging the public in deliberation about the future that are economical in resource and in participants' time, so that consultation can become more widespread than is currently the case.