MPIEP No. 27

Talking Hydrogen: Assessing Hydrogen Discourses in the European Union (EU) and its Member States

Friedrich Plank, Johannes Muntschick, Michèle Knodt, Arne Niemann


Within the European Union (EU) and its member states, hydrogen as an energy carrier is assumed to be of key importance for decarbonising different sectors in the fight against climate change. Hence, state and private actors in Europe have engaged in a variety of attempts, strategies and policies, specifically after the EU has announced a specific hydrogen strategy recently. Against this backdrop, this paper seeks to provide an analysis on the debates generated by Europe´s bet on hydrogen, focusing specifically on the years 2019-2021. Drawing on a discourse analysis that is based on more than 32 000 media reports generated through the database Nexis for the discourse in Europe, it analyses the debates on hydrogen in the European Union from various perspectives and with a focus on a wide range of actors. The paper will specifically examine the debates emerging from the release of the EU hydrogen strategy. Building on a broad set of indicators, it puts an emphasis on discourses on the organisation, application, and opportunities of hydrogen as assigned by private and state actors and engages with debates legislation processes and strategic cooperation in the EU. It thus engages with the discourse on hydrogen in a complex environment with diverging interests of stakeholders, and thus examines debates that still need further empirical research.

Keywords: Hydrogen, Energy Transition, European Union, Discourse

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