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See detailNegotiating Sustainable Innovation? Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies in Germany
Canzler, Weert; Galich, Ante UL; Marz, Lutz

in European Journal of Environmental Sciences (2013), 3(1), 65-71

Recently, the German Federal Government made the consequential decision to change its energy program. This not only as a result of the decision to shut down the existing nuclear power plants within the ... [more ▼]

Recently, the German Federal Government made the consequential decision to change its energy program. This not only as a result of the decision to shut down the existing nuclear power plants within the next few years, but also due to vital challenges like climate change and security of energy supply. The shift in the energy-technology paradigm from fossil fuel technologies to regenerative energies might appear as a merely technical process at first glance. Yet, the road to environmental sustainability is paved with economic and social stumbling blocks. The concept of sustainable development is not a blueprint for technical progress but requires deliberations on questions about innovations and governance: How do we want to live and how do we want to get there? This paper traces the negotiations of sustainable innovation on the example of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in Germany. The institutional set up in this field is analyzed and the new organizational actors are identified. These actors attempt to inform and persuade others of the benefits of hydrogen and fuel cells in order to establish a common view that is to guide the further development. However, while they succeeded in mobilizing enough actors to launch the largest Public Private Partnership in this sector in the EU, they could not attain the leadership in the public discourse on these technologies. It seems that an attractive guiding vision of a sustainable, post-fossil energy future and a broad acceptance in daily use would have been major prerequisites for such leadership. [less ▲]

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