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H21- Public Perceptions of Converting the Gas Network to Hydrogen - Social Sciences Sudy


The next decade will see fundamental changes in how people heat their homes. The global energy system is changing in response to the need to transition away from fossil-based generation towards more environmentally sustainable alternatives.
Hydrogen offers one such alternative, but currently there is limited understanding of public perceptions of hydrogen, the information that people need in order to make an informed choice about using hydrogen in their homes, and how misunderstandings could present barriers to the uptake of hydrogen technology. This is crucial to ensure the success of future policy and investment. The H21 concept is to convert the UK gas distribution network to 100% hydrogen over time, thereby decarbonising heat and supporting decarbonisation of electric, large industrials and transport. This would be achieved using the existing UK gas grid network and technology available across the world today, whilst maintaining the benefits of gas and the gas networks in the energy mix for the long-term future. Additionally, this would maintain choice of energy for customers, i.e. they would be able to use both gas and electricity. The H21 project is being delivered by the UK gas distribution networks Northern Gas Networks, Cadent, Wales & West Utilities and SGN. As part of the H21 project, Leeds Beckett University has been working with Northern Gas Networks to gain insight into public perceptions of hydrogen as a domestic fuel. Using innovative social science methods, the research team has explored, for the first time, public perceptions of moving the UK domestic fuel supply to 100% hydrogen. We identify what people think and feel about a potential conversion, the concerns and questions that they have, and how to address them clearly. The findings presented in this report will ensure that issues around the current perception of hydrogen are identified and addressed prior to any large-scale technology rollout.
The first stage of the project comprised a series of discovery interviews, which explored how to talk to people about hydrogen and the H21 project. We interviewed 12 participants, selected to ensure we included people with a range of experiences and domestic settings, for example people who live in urban and rural areas, those who live alone, those who live with children or a partner, those who live in their own home and those who rent. Most participants had given very little thought about where their gas and electric comes from and, other than switching supplier to get a better tariff, had very little interest in it. They had not previously considered their domestic heating as a source of carbon emissions and were surprised that there may be a need in the future to change their gas supply. From the discovery interviews, we identified several key areas to explore in the next stage of the work:

  • Beliefs about the environment
  • Beliefs about inconvenience and cost
  • Beliefs about safety
  • Beliefs about the economic impact

This report and any attachment is freely available on the ENA Smarter Networks Portal here. IGEM Members can download the report and any attachment directly by clicking on the pdf icon above.

Funding source: Network Innovation Allowance (NIA)
Related subjects: Projects & Initiatives
Countries: United Kingdom

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