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A comparative UK-German study of hydrogen fuel cell innovative activity

Hacking, Nicholas 2017. A comparative UK-German study of hydrogen fuel cell innovative activity. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Abstract

In this thesis, four questions are answered about the nature of hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) research, demonstration and development (RD&D) activity in the UK and Germany: 1) how, when and where HFC innovation and diffusion has occurred, 2) which socio-technical factors best explain the nature and pace of HFC innovation and diffusion, 3) what would add and enrich theoretical and methodological approaches to researching HFCs within Innovation Studies, and 4) what policy options follow on from these insights. Firstly, a theoretical contribution involves a critique of the Technologically-specific Innovation Systems (TSISs) heuristic in terms of concepts of agency and structure, system delineation, system indicators and the quality of policy guidance. The knowledge gaps that are revealed suggest methodological modifications to the TSIS approach to event histories in terms of organisational funding – whether events are public, private and public-private – and geographical location should also be included in analyses of HFC innovation and diffusion. Secondly, an empirical contribution is made: the provision of two HFC Technological Innovation System (TIS) case studies from the UK and Germany. This evidence suggests sustained positive feedback between system functions is beginning to occur in this niche sector. Over time, HFC technologies are shown to coevolve and branch along certain pathways - and not others - depending upon structural barriers and enablers encountered by HFC actors. Thirdly, there is a contribution to policy based upon the empirical evidence. State actors should recognize that they can take responsibility for encouraging HFC growth and development. Empirically, public-private partnerships (PPPs), when used in combination with state procurement, were shown to offer HFC actors the greatest levels of agency when cutting unit costs and accelerating diffusion. Ultimately, there may well be hybridised or alternative forms of the TSIS heuristic that fare better in their analyses of HFC innovation and diffusion, however, future lines of HFC research using this approach are not advocated here. I have reached this conclusion because the knowledge gaps that I have identified with the TSIS heuristic are likely insurmountable given the TSIS heuristic’s neofunctionalist ontology.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Architecture
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords: innovation, energy, sustainability, transition, technology, hydrogen fuel cells, infrastructure, United Kingdom, Germany
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 June 2017
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2017 12:27
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/101406

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