The power of incumbent actors to affect sustainability transitions is increasingly recognised as a central issue associated with systemic change. However, incumbent’s approaches and the outcome of their influence is rarely examined in academic literature. Using a novel approach which combines the lens of ‘discourse coalitions’ with an explicitly critical discursive stance, in which the coalition’s storyline is scrutinised, this interdisciplinary analysis investigates a pro-gas, incumbent led coalition present in the Great Britain (GB) energy system. In response to the threat of electrification, the coalition presents decarbonising the gas grid with replacement gases as the optimal route for heat decarbonisation. However, much analysis suggests a significant need for heat electrification and our review highlights major uncertainties with a decarbonised gas pathway. Incumbents are over-selling ‘green-gas’ to policy makers in order to protect their interests and detract from the importance and value of electrification. Policy and research recommendations are made.
Science Direct (accessed) 1st April 2021 read more »
Hydrogen is often touted in the scientific and general media as a silver bullet for reaching net zero emissions. There is nothing new or wrong in big business promoting their service or product, as they are mandated by their shareholders to turn a profit. Yet these groupings promote hydrogen in near isolation and do not fully present the benefits in comparison with other net zero heat and power options, for example electrification or biofuels. In this isolated context it is easy for politicians to be seduced with “what’s not to like about hydrogen?”.
Academics at Exeter and Imperial universities recently investigated this hydrogen bias in the UK heat sector. Their study concluded that: “Incumbents [actors within the heat sector] are over-selling ‘green-gas’ to policy makers in order to protect their interests and detract from the importance and value of electrification.”
The Conversation 31st March 2021 read more »
In the week when the UK Government grudgingly awarded a minuscule grant into hydrogen fuel cell research, Stellantis, the giant European and American car-making group, has revealed a full production hydrogen fuel-cell van which will go on sale in Europe and the UK this year. Stellantis, the Peugeot/Citroen/Opel/Fiat conglomerate, also says that it is investigating using a similar hybridised fuel-cell system in a passenger car, which it will put into production in the near future. “This is the moment,” says Carla Gohin, Stellantis’s senior vice-president of research and innovation. “We are not talking prototypes, these will be real vehicles for real customers and will be answering specific needs of commercial operators. “We are currently looking at ramping up the project,” she continued, “and it makes sense to look at fitting the next generation [of the technology] into passenger cars, which will be the next step.” The company has been at the forefront of light commercial electrification, it has identified “a serious percentage of users with operations which are not suitable for electric vehicles”. This is because such users operate a mixed-use cycle, straddling urban and out-of-town use and require a greater range, faster recharging and the retention of the vehicle’s cubic capacity load space.
Telegraph 31st March 2021 read more »