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Regime-driven Niches and Institutional Entrepreneurs: Adding Hydrogen to Regional Energy Systems in Germany


In recent years, production and supply of hydrogen has gained significant attention within the German energy transition. This is due to increasingly urgent pressures to mitigate climate change and geopolitical imperatives to substitute natural gas. Hydrogen is seen as an important cross-sectoral energy carrier serving multiple functions including heat production for industry and households, fuel for transportation and energy storage for stabilization of electricity supply. In the context of various funding mechanisms on several administrative levels, regional value chains for green hydrogen supply are emerging. To date, however, few studies analyzing regional hydrogen systems exist. Due to its high projected demand of energy sources for heating, industrial processes and mobility, Germany appears to be a very relevant research area in this emerging field. Situated within the concept of the multi-level perspective, this article examines the way how regional “niches” of green hydrogen evolve and how they are organized. The study takes an evolutionary perspective in analyzing processes of embedding green hydrogen infrastructures in regional energy regimes which entered “re-configuration”-pathways. It argues that the congruence of available resources for renewable electricity, established networks of institutional entrepreneurs and access to higher level funding are conditions which put incumbent regime-actors in favorable positions to implement green hydrogen niches. Conversely, the embedding of green hydrogen infrastructures in regional energy systems is a case in point of how the attributes of niches in particular technological domains can be used to explain the transition pathway entered by a surrounding energy regime.

Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics
Countries: Germany

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