Public happy with hydrogen

Research from Salford University has shown that the general public is better informed about and more receptive to hydrogen fuels and other green energy ideas than policy-makers believe.

The four-year, £405,400 study investigated hydrogen production and consumption sites in Wales, Teesside and London, and gauged local public opinion and that of government agencies and industry.

Another £120,000 project for the Department for Transport has also looked at the view on hydrogen energy in transport among potential users in Norwich, Sheffield and Southampton, areas which do not have embryonic hydrogen developments.

Sociology Professors Rob Flynn and Paul Bellaby led the research team. Flynn said: ‘Many policy makers assume that the public are ill-informed about, and resistant to, measures to prevent climate change and, as a result, tend to exclude them when developing policy.

‘Through systematic research we’ve discovered that this is not the case. Many people see hydrogen technology as an opportunity to regenerate their communities, reduce carbon emissions and live more sustainably. They want to be involved from the start so that any concerns or suggestions can be taken into account.’

The research has now been extended for four more years and awarded over £500,000 by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to allow the team to do further research into how to integrate public opinion with policy-making.

Flynn said: ‘We’ll be using citizens’ panels, which allow a representative section of the public to tell scientists and politicians what they think and ask them questions. That way, when a hydrogen energy strategy is produced it will be with the informed views of the public taken into account.’