Towards a Low-Carbon Society via Hydrogen and Carbon Capture and Storage: Social Acceptance from a Stakeholder Perspective
Transformation concepts towards a low-carbon society often require new technology and infrastructure that evoke protests in the population. Therefore, it is crucial to understand positions and conflicts in society to achieve social acceptance. This paper analyses these positions using the example of implementing hydrogen and carbon capture and storage infrastructure to decarbonise the German energy system. The empirical basis of the study are explorative stakeholder interviews which were conducted with experts from politics, economics, civil society and science and analysed within a discursive and attitudinal framework using qualitative content analysis. These stakeholder positions are assumed to represent dominant social perceptions and reflect chances and risks for acceptance. The results indicate different positions while pursuing the common goal of addressing climate change. The general conflict concerns strategies towards a low-carbon society, especially the speed of phasing-out fossil energies. Regarding the combination of hydrogen and carbon capture and storage as instrument in the context of the energy transition, the stakeholder interviews indicate controversial as well as consensual perceptions. The assessments range from rejection to deeming it absolutely necessary. Controversial argumentations refer to security of supply, competitiveness and environmental protection. In contrast, consensus can be reached by balancing ecological and economic arguments, e.g. by linking hydrogen technologies with renewable and fossil energy sources or by limiting the use of carbon capture and storage only to certain applications (industry, bioenergy). In further decisions, this balancing of arguments combined with openness of technology, transparency of information and citizen participation need to be considered to achieve broad acceptance.