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Towards a Multi-color Hydrogen Production Network? Competing Imaginaries of Development in Northern Patagonia, Argentina


Green hydrogen has recently gained importance as a key element in the transition to a low-carbon energy future, sparking a boom in possible production regions. This article aims at situating incipient hydrogen production in the Argentine province of Río Negro within a global production network (GPN). The early configuration of the hydrogen-GPN includes several stakeholders and is contested in many ways. To explore the possible materialization of the hydrogen economy in Argentina, this article links GPN literature to the concept of sociotechnical imaginaries. In so doing, this study finds three energy imaginaries linked to hydrogen development: First, advocates of green hydrogen (GH2) project a sociotechnical imaginary in which GH2 is expected to promote scientific and technological progress. Second, proponents of blue hydrogen point to Vaca Muerta and the role of natural gas for energy autonomy. Third, opponents of the GH2 project question the underlying growth and export model, emphasizing conservation and domestic energy sovereignty. The competition between different capital fractions, i.e. green and fossil, currently poses the risk of pro-fossil path decisions and lock-in effects. Current power constellations have led to the replacement of green with low-emission, resulting in the promotion of multi-colored hydrogen. This is particularly evident in the draft for the new national hydrogen law and the actors involved in defining the national hydrogen strategy. The conceptual combination of actors and their interests, their current power relations, and the sociotechnical imaginaries they deploy illustrates how Argentina's energy future is already being shaped today.

Related subjects: Production & Supply Chain
Countries: Austria

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