Anticipating public attitudes towards hydrogen energy technologies

Ensuring a responsible hydrogen transition by anticipating public attitudes towards different hydrogen energy technologies

Project duration: November 2020 to November 2023

Ensuring a responsible hydrogen transition by anticipating public attitudes towards different hydrogen energy technologies

The Challenge

Hydrogen has exciting potential as a source of energy. It could help address energy security challenges, reduce carbon emissions, and generate economic growth. However, like most new technologies, implementing new hydrogen energy systems in a socially responsible way is not without its challenges. If we are to scale up hydrogen production out of the lab and into the hands of industry players, we will need a range of new technologies. For instance, producing clean hydrogen at scale will require more large-scale solar and wind farms, and we may need some help from carbon capture and storage technology. We may also need to store large amounts of hydrogen underground. These production and storage approaches will likely impact people and communities in different ways.

Different technologies required to make, store, transport and use hydrogen have their own unique risks, benefits and costs. This means that support for hydrogen will likely be dependent on how people think about specific technologies and social actors involved. The fact that someone may be supportive of hydrogen cars, for instance, may not necessarily mean they are supportive of all the ways in which hydrogen can be made and stored.

Because the successful uptake of any new energy technology is dependent on community and public acceptance, it is important to understand the factors that may facilitate or impede the public acceptance of new hydrogen energy technologies.

Our Response

CSIRO’s Responsible Innovation and Hydrogen Energy Systems Future Science Platforms (FSP) are collaborating to better understand and anticipate public attitudes to different hydrogen energy technologies in Australia. The aim is to ensure that future hydrogen technology is implemented in a socially responsible way.

This project will investigate public attitudes towards different hydrogen energy technologies using qualitative and quantitative research methods. The goal of this research is not to merely identify and describe public attitudes, but to explain how and why people form attitudes towards specific hydrogen technologies. To achieve this goal, the researchers will implement a new method of conceptualising and modelling attitudes to better anticipate public responses to future hydrogen energy technologies.

The findings from this project will help to inform messaging, policy, and decision-making to support a responsible hydrogen transition. More specifically, this project aims to ensure that:

  • relevant stakeholders (e.g., industry, government, and policymakers) are informed about the technology-specific concerns people may have, and how to best address these concerns.
  • decisions about how to make, store, transport and use hydrogen are informed by public preferences.
  • large-scale hydrogen projects, which may impact some communities more than others, are implemented in ways that align with community values and expectations.

The Team

Mitchell Scovell and Andrea Walton

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