Public awareness of technological, scientific and innovation issues is a function of many factors, including exposure to ideas or artefacts, the degree of attention that people pay to these and their salience. If something is of little interest or incomprehensible to people, it is less likely to be remembered, reflected upon or evaluated. The same applies if an object has no real physical presence for people, which is of course the case with technologies that are new. One of the benefits of awareness-related opinion survey work is that, repeated on a longitudinal basis, it can track awareness as it changes over time. HYACINTH will lay the ground for such opinion tracking in relation to hydrogen fuel cells, should repeat studies take place.
The social acceptance of new products, applications, and technologies is a function of the attitudes, behaviours, opinions and activities resulting from the interactions between stakeholders, the general public or lay society as a whole and the proposed technologies. Social acceptance of a technology is thus the result of a complex relationship between technology and society.
Deep social research on hydrogen acceptance would provide insight into the state of public and stakeholder acceptance (including socio-political and market actors), and about relevant factors affecting those levels of awareness and acceptance.
This would result in useful information to understand better how society and stakeholders respond to innovative technologies and applications. Therefore, HYACINTH will focus on understanding the influencing factors in the acceptance process (taking into account a certain technology, project or system specification). This will focus in particular on the specific transition phase of market implementation, between the demonstration and market phases.
The aim of the HYACINTH project is to provide evidence-based knowledge that helps to optimize the societal management of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in the transition phase.
The following questions are among those to be considered when seeking to understand acceptance processes and their implications in the transition phase of hydrogen energy and FCH technologies:
- How do the public and stakeholders view hydrogen energy and FCH technologies? What are their levels of awareness, attitudes and beliefs?
- Who are the publics and stakeholders involved? How do awareness, attitudes and beliefs vary across populations in different countries?
- What are the implications of the above for planning the scale-up of hydrogen energy and FCH technologies?
- When needs to be done when? At what points in time is social acceptance critical?