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Towards a new social science research agenda for hydrogen transitions: Social practices, energy justice, and place attachment

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Matthew Scott, Dr Gareth Powells



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


In recent years hydrogen has been repositioned as potentially playing an important role in the decarbonisation of global energy consumption, particularly the decarbonisation of heat. Reflecting a recognition that public support will be central to its success or failure, a body of research has emerged investigating public perceptions of hydrogen in a range of different contexts. The majority of this research has followed quantitative, positivist understandings of human behaviour and has attempted to pinpoint specific factors that determine hydrogen acceptance. This article proposes a different research agenda for hydrogen transitions that can inform hydrogen’s introduction to domestic gas supplies as a fuel for homes. The article identifies and conceptualises three aspects of a hydrogen transitions research agenda: how hydrogen has the potential to impact gas-energised social practices of heating and cooking in the home; how it may shift lived experiences of fuel poverty and energy injustice; and how it may disrupt or enhance place attachments of the communities within which it will begin to be deployed. To illustrate the argument, the article presents findings from a research project exploring public perceptions of hydrogen blending in the United Kingdom. Drawing on these findings, it is shown how researching the potential impacts of emerging hydrogen transitions will require a broader and deeper engagement with theories of social practice, energy justice, and place attachment. The article concludes by summarising the implications of the argument for hydrogen researchers and identifying the challenges and opportunities of a new social science research agenda for hydrogen.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Scott M, Powells G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Energy Research & Social Science

Year: 2020

Volume: 61

Print publication date: 01/03/2020

Online publication date: 19/11/2019

Acceptance date: 01/11/2019

Date deposited: 04/11/2019

ISSN (print): 2214-6296

ISSN (electronic): 2214-6296

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.erss.2019.101346


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