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Hydrogen, A Less Disruptive Pathway for Domestic Heat? Exploratory Findings from Public Perception Research


The disruption associated with heat decarbonisation has been identified as a key opportunity for hydrogen technologies in temperate countries and regions where established distribution infrastructure and familiarity with natural gas boilers predominate. A key element of such claims is the empirically untested belief that citizens will prefer to minimise disruption and perceive hydrogen to be less disruptive than the network upgrades and retrofit measures needed to support electric and other low carbon heating technologies. This article reports on exploratory deliberative research with residents of Cardiff, Wales which examined public perceptions of heating disruptions. Our findings suggest that concerns over public responses to disruption may be overstated, particularly as they relate to construction and road excavation for network upgrade. Disruptions arising from permanent changes to building fabric may be more problematic for heat pump retrofit, however these may be greatly overshadowed by anxieties over the cost implications of moving to hydrogen fuel. Furthermore, the biographical patterning of citizen preferences raises significant questions for hydrogen roll-out strategies relying on regionalised network conversion. We conclude by arguing that far from a non-disruptive alternative to electrification, hydrogen risks being seen as posing substantial disruptions to precarious household finances and lifestyles.

Funding source: This work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council NUEPA project [EP/T023031/1]. Additional support was provided by the Welsh Government through the European Regional Development fund as part of the FLEXIS project: https://www.flexis. wales/.
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics
Countries: United Kingdom

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