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. The development of hydrogen and fuel cell (HFC) 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 HFC technologies in specific countries, but there is limited systematic evidence on the social acceptance of these technologies throughout Europe.
“Hydrogen acceptance in the transition phase” HYACINTH Project, has been financed by Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Undertaking Joint in the FCH-JU-2013-1 Call, and it has the overall purpose of gaining a deeper understanding of the social acceptance of hydrogen technologies across Europe as well as developing 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 HFC technologies will be investigated via survey research with representative panels across Europe (up to 7.000 European citizens) and semi-structured interviews with 455 selected stakeholders in 7 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 HFC 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 HFC 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 HFC technologies across Europe and the toolbox will support future projects in setting up under through consideration of 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 HFC technologies.