Starting a hydrogen dialogue - Communicating with consumers to build positive perceptions and experiences
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Starting a hydrogen dialogue - communicating with consumers to build positive perceptions and experiences.
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Hydrogen could play an important role in reducing carbon emissions in the heating sector as the UK moves towards meeting its Net Zero goal in 2050.
Hydrogen can be produced in several ways with the government focussing on ‘blue’ and ‘green’ methods.
Blue hydrogen is produced by steam reforming of natural gas, which emits carbon that is captured through carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Green hydrogen is created by using electricity from renewable energy sources to split the water and thus does not emit carbon.
Hydrogen for heating is not commercially available yet but a few trials of a blended approach (small quantities of hydrogen, usually 20% vol) have been conducted.
Acceptance levels will depend on whether it is a blended approach or 100% hydrogen and how closely the user experience matches that of natural gas. Public awareness of hydrogen remains low, which contributes to a neutral attitude towards it.
How to engage consumers
Consumers (especially vulnerable ones) should be consulted on their needs and requirements as part of the hydrogen conversion 24- 36 months beforehand.
Identify trusted partners and stakeholders to help deliver messages to people to garner their support.
Communication should be delivered through various channels (both on and offline) to ensure maximum reach.
Demonstrate how hydrogen heating could work in people’s home through real life case studies and real/virtual show houses.
The messaging should focus on why this transition is necessary, highlighting that current heating sources produce carbon emissions.
Inform residents of the practicalities of the conversion, providing ample time to prepare.
Tailor the messaging to focus on consumer benefits, and incentivising them to get people on board.
Ref 1: Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, 2022, “Decarbonising heat in homes,” UK Parliament.
Ref 2: Westwood Global Energy Group, 2023, “Hydrogen scale-up: what’s priming the UK for success?”.
Ref 3: Williams, H., Lohmann, T., Foster, S. and Morrell, G., 2018, “Public acceptability of the use of hydrogen for heating and cooking in the home,” Madano.
Ref 4: Fylan, F., Fletcher, M. and Christmas, S., 2020, “H21: Public perceptions of converting,” Leeds Beckett University.
What is the Hydrogen Innovation Initiative?
The Hydrogen Innovation Initiative’s (HII) mission is to accelerate the development of critical technologies and supply chains in the UK for the fast-growing hydrogen economy. HII partners include the Catapult Network, the Advanced Propulsion Centre, the Aerospace Technology Institute, the Net Zero Technology Centre and the National Physical Laboratory. HII is supported by Innovate UK.