HYACINTH (HYdrogen ACceptance IN the Transition pHase)

The project HYACINTH of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking was launched last September. The project is coordinated by CENTRO NACIONAL DE EXPERIMENTACIONDE TECNOLOGIAS DE HIDROGENO Y PILAS DE COMBUSTIBLE. Other partners are I PLUS F FRANCE SARL, CENTRO DE INVESTIGACIONES ENERGETICAS, MEDIOAMBIENTALES Y TECNOLOGICAS-CIEMAT, RAZVOJNI CENTER ZA VODIKOVE TEHNOLOGIJE, ODC Services GMBH, ABERDEEN CITY COUNCIL. CIDAUT will also be involved as WP leader in order to determine the context influence over the stakeholders and to design the methodology to carry out the Social acceptance study.

The social acceptance by the general public, the stakeholders and the potential customers of Fuel Cell and Hydrogen (FCH) projects and applications across Europe is widely recognized as a key dimension in the sustainable implementation of FCH technologies. The document Fuel Cell and Hydrogen technologies in Europe: Financial and technology outlook on the European sector ambition 2014- 2020 by The New Energy World Industry Grouping (NEW-IG) considers the development of a good understanding of the conditions of societal acceptance as an essential element to support the establishment of these conditions in Europe. If hydrogen and fuel cell technologies are to play a significant role in Europe’s new energy and transport systems, a careful consideration of social acceptance issues is needed.

There is increasing realisation amongst policy makers and industry that public acceptance is a key consideration for any attempts to deploy and extend hydrogen technologies and infrastructures in Europe (EC, 2006). The development of hydrogen technologies in Europe will involve small-scale applications as well as large-scale infrastructures that may be influenced by the acceptance of the general public, stakeholders groups, the local community and the potential customers and users. Previous research on social acceptance has investigated the general levels of public understanding of FCH technologies in specific countries, but there is limited systematic evidence on the social acceptance of FCH technologies throughout Europe. The overall purpose of HYACINTH is to gain a deeper understanding of the social acceptance of hydrogen technologies across Europe as well as to develop a communication and management toolbox to be used in ongoing and future activities aiming at introducing hydrogen into mobility, stationary and energy or backup power supply systems.

Social acceptance of FCH technologies will be investigated via survey research with representative panels across Europe (up to 10.000 European citizens) and semi-structured interviews with 650 selected stakeholders in 10 countries. The design of the data gathering instruments will build upon the methodological and conceptual developments in the research of social acceptance of new technologies. The toolbox will provide the necessary background information and understanding of the current state of awareness and acceptance of FCH technologies by the general public and by stakeholder groups (industry, municipalities, researchers, fleet operators …). It will further provide the necessary tools to understand and manage expectations of future FCH projects and products in the transition phase, to identify regional challenges to the projects and to determine effective policy support measures.

Together the results from the research on the social acceptance of FCH technologies across Europe and the toolbox will support future projects to considerate the acceptance processes influenced by their activities; i.e. identifying regions of supportive acceptance, bottlenecks and challenges to be tackled, communication strategies and other means to actively manage the acceptance process FCH technologies.