Special Issue "Governance Strategies and Insights to Accelerate the Production and Diffusion of Hydrogen and Fuel-Cell Technologies"

A special issue of Energies (ISSN 1996-1073). This special issue belongs to the section "Hydrogen Energy".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Gregory Trencher
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
Interests: Energy policy; Hydrogen society and fuel-cell vehicles; Fossil fuel divestment and phase-out; Governance of low-carbon technologies; Sustainability transitions
Dr. Araz Taeihagh
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Interests: Governance of technology, Transport Policy, Technology Policy, Public policy; Socio-technical systems; Policy design, analysis, and analytics; Sustainable development; Smart cities, Energy and Environment
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Andrew John Chapman
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Energy Analysis Division, International Institute for Carbon Neutral Energy Research (I2CNER) and Graduate School of Economics, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan
Interests: Energy analysis; Energy economics; Social equity impacts of the energy system; Holistic sustainability evaluation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

As the energy transition to a post-carbon society gathers pace, renewable energy, batteries and battery electric vehicles are rapidly diffusing while improving considerably in cost and performance. Thus, for many, hydrogen has slipped from the field of attention. Yet hydrogen and fuel-cells can play (and are already playing) an important role in accelerating the electrification and decarbonisation of transport, industry and households. This is especially so for long-range or heavy-duty vehicles, long-term and long-distance energy storage, and difficult to decarbonise sectors like steel, chemicals and heat production. With hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies rapidly developing and diffusing around the world, it is time to take stock of this situation and consider: 

  • What governance strategies are being used to accelerate the production and diffusion of hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies?
  • How are countries or regions using hydrogen and fuel-cells to accelerate the decarbonisation of transport (e.g. road and maritime) in particular, but also industry and households?
  • How are countries or regions using hydrogen and fuel-cells to support the upscaling of renewable energies?
  • What trends and planning insights can build understanding into how hydrogen and fuel-cells can help accelerate the transition to a post-carbon world? 

We invite colleagues to submit high-quality papers on these topics in a special issue organised by three guest editors: Gregory Trencher (Tohoku University, Japan), Araz Taeihagh (National University of Singapore), and Andrew Chapman (Kyushu University, Japan).

Dr. Gregory Trencher
Dr. Araz Taeihagh
Dr. Andrew John Chapman
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Energies is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Hydrogen
  • Fuel cells
  • Policy
  • Governance
  • Diffusion
  • Infrastructure
  • Vehicles
  • Transport
  • Decarbonization
  • Energy storage and transmission

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Drivers and Barriers to the Adoption of Fuel Cell Passenger Vehicles and Buses in Germany
Energies 2021, 14(4), 833; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14040833 - 05 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 633
As policymakers and automotive stakeholders around the world seek to accelerate the electrification of road transport with hydrogen, this study focuses on the experiences of Germany, a world leader in fuel cell technology. Specifically, it identifies and compares the drivers and barriers influencing [...] Read more.
As policymakers and automotive stakeholders around the world seek to accelerate the electrification of road transport with hydrogen, this study focuses on the experiences of Germany, a world leader in fuel cell technology. Specifically, it identifies and compares the drivers and barriers influencing the production and market penetration of privately-owned fuel cell electric passenger vehicles (FCEVs) and fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs) in public transit fleets. Using original data collected via a survey and 17 interviews, we elicited the opinions of experts to examine opportunities and obstacles in Germany from four perspectives: (i) the supply of vehicles (ii) refuelling infrastructure, (iii) demand for vehicles, and (iv) cross-cutting institutional issues. Findings indicate that despite multiple drivers, there are significant challenges hampering the growth of the hydrogen mobility market. Several are more pronounced in the passenger FCEV market. These include the supply and cost of production, the lack of German automakers producing FCEVs, the profitability and availability of refuelling stations, and low demand for vehicles. In light of these findings, we extract implications for international policymakers and future studies. This study provides a timely update on efforts to spur the deployment of hydrogen mobility in Germany and addresses the underrepresentation of studies examining both buses and passenger vehicles in tandem. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
The Role of Hydrogen in Achieving Long Term Japanese Energy System Goals
Energies 2020, 13(17), 4539; https://doi.org/10.3390/en13174539 - 02 Sep 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1006
This research qualitatively reviews literature regarding energy system modeling in Japan specific to the future hydrogen economy, leveraging quantitative model outcomes to establish the potential future deployment of hydrogen in Japan. The analysis focuses on the four key sectors of storage, supplementing the [...] Read more.
This research qualitatively reviews literature regarding energy system modeling in Japan specific to the future hydrogen economy, leveraging quantitative model outcomes to establish the potential future deployment of hydrogen in Japan. The analysis focuses on the four key sectors of storage, supplementing the gas grid, power generation, and transportation, detailing the potential range of hydrogen technologies which are expected to penetrate Japanese energy markets up to 2050 and beyond. Alongside key model outcomes, the appropriate policy settings, governance and market mechanisms are described which underpin the potential hydrogen economy future for Japan. We find that transportation, gas grid supplementation, and storage end-uses may emerge in significant quantities due to policies which encourage ambitious implementation targets, investment in technologies and research and development, and the emergence of a future carbon pricing regime. On the other hand, for Japan which will initially be dependent on imported hydrogen, the cost of imports appears critical to the emergence of broad hydrogen usage, particularly in the power generation sector. Further, the consideration of demographics in Japan, recognizing the aging, shrinking population and peoples’ energy use preferences will likely be instrumental in realizing a smooth transition toward a hydrogen economy. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

1. Title: The role of infrastructure in the market introduction of fuel cell vehicles

Authors: Scott Hardman, University of California, Davis; [email protected]

Abstract: Unlike electric vehicles, which can use existing electricity infrastructure, fuel cell vehicles require an entirely new network of refueling stations. To support the role out of fuel cell vehicles government and industry have been developing hydrogen infrastructure in select locations. One such location is California where 40 stations are currently in operation. In this study we use results from a questionnaire survey to investigate how fuel cell vehicle drivers use these stations, including how many stations they use, the distance stations are from their home location, and what impact their preferred stations had on their decision to purchase a fuel cell vehicle. Results show fuel cell vehicle drivers use one station for 76% of their refueling events, they refuel 78 times per year, and use 1.8 stations on average. The closest station to their home is 16.8 miles away, and if this station did not exist 69% of buyers report they would have purchased a fuel cell vehicle. The results show the impact a small number of refueling stations can have on fuel cell vehicle markets and highlight the importance of government investments into hydrogen refueling infrastructure.

Keywords: fuel cell vehicles, hydrogen, refueling

2. Title: How to address the cross-sectoral & multi-purpose nature of water electrolysis? Case study on green hydrogen production in Europe

Authors: Benoit Decourt, UCL Energy Institute 1, 14 Upper Woburn Place, London, WC1H 0NN, United Kingdom; [email protected]

Abstract: Tackling climate change requires to a deep decarbonization of the energy system, including hard-to-abate sectors such as aviation or high-temperature industrial heat. To that end, a cross-cutting technology is gaining increasing momentum: water electrolysis. While electrolysis is well known in a number of industrial processes, its use for energy purposes is relatively new and encompasses many different applications across sectors and infrastructure. This research surmises that the cross-sectoral, multi-purpose nature of water electrolysis deserves careful consideration: depending on their relationships, applications may indeed reinforce each other and drive the diffusion of a technology, but also induce blocking mechanisms. To inform policy-makers and private actors, this paper proposes to draw on technological innovation system (TIS) that has proved popular to conceptualize and explore the dynamics of innovation diffusion; and to incorporate into TIS an analytical add-on to allow the assessment of application configuration that is not included into conventional methodological approach. Based on a case study on water electrolysis in Europe, this article illustrates the complexity of applications’ relationships and how diverging alignments have successively weaken or promoted green hydrogen and e-fuel deployment.

Keywords: water electrolysis; hydrogen; e-fuels; power-to-X; technological innovation system; multi-purpose technology

3. Title: Germany’s journey to hydrogen mobility: Governance measures to spur the production and market penetration of fuel-cell road transport

Authors: Gregory Trencher, Tohoku University, Japan; [email protected]

Abstract: Over the last two decades, German automakers have been at the forefront of global efforts to develop fuel-cell vehicles. Germany has also been a frontrunner in developing commercial hydrogen fueling stations and introducing fuel-cell passenger vehicles and buses. However, this momentum has recently waned. The number of on-road fuel-cell passenger vehicles is well behind California and Japan. Meanwhile German auto manufacturers are yet to begin mass-producing vehicles and appear increasingly committed to battery electric technology. In parallel, investments and expectations are mounting around the development and diffusion of heavy-duty transport applications such as buses and trucks. These experiences in Germany over the past two decades hold important implications for understanding the potential of fuel-cell vehicles to contribute to the electrification of road transport sector. Yet this topic is yet to be examined in literature. Accordingly, this study examines the governance strategies used by government and industry to accelerate the production and diffusion of fuel-cell transport in Germany. Strategies are examined from four perspectives: (i) vehicle production, (ii) hydrogen fueling infrastructure, (iii) market creation, and (iv) cross-cutting institutional strategies. Data is sourced from interviews with stakeholders and document analysis. Findings reveal that governance strategies have reacted largely to the technological immaturity and economics of hydrogen and fuel-cells as well as market forces in the battery electric vehicle sphere. Findings thus hold relevance for other countries seeking to accelerate the introduction of fuel-cell road transport.

Keywords: fuel-cells, hydrogen, transport, mobility, governance, policy, Germany

4. Title: Local government industrial policies and the development of domestic production networks in FCEVs: A case study of Nanhai in southern China

Authors: Godfrey Yeung, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117570; [email protected]

Yi Liu, Sun Yat-sen University, China 510275; [email protected]

Abstract: The asymmetrical relationships between global lead firms and its captive suppliers in developing countries is highlighted by the global value chain or global production network analytical framework. Based on a case study of Xianhu Hydrogen Valley in Nanhai, this paper examines how industrial policies adopted by a district government in southern China could develop one of the most competitive domestic production networks in FCEVs, from the making of compressors and fuel cell modules to the manufacturing of hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles, with neither the massive investment from the central government nor the captive linkage with lead firms. In addition to establish the infrastructure, Nanhai’s government adopted a combination of supply-push and demand-pull initiatives to facilitate the industrial development and the adoption of FCEVs. Instead of the usual top-down policy initiative implemented by the Chinese central government, the local government facilitated the investment of (privately-owned) FCEV-makers and parts suppliers in Nanhai. The subsidies provided by the central and local governments on bus procurement and refuelling cost bring FCEVs closer to the cost parity (when comparing with the diesel engine commercial vehicles). This finding could have significant policy implications for the wider transition of hydrogen as a clean energy in the society.

Keywords: industrial policies, domestic production networks, global production network, fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEVs), China

5. Title: Mapping China’s governance strategies for diffusing hydrogen fuel-cell technologies

Authors: Geoffrey C. Chen, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China; [email protected]

Abstract: China’s capacity for the production and diffusion of hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies is catching up to and could surpass the rest of the world’s market share. In addition, Chinese manufacturers supply more than 60 per cent of such equipment. The article uses the concept of the green entrepreneurial state to analyse the country's experience in deploying battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs). It discusses how and to what extent the ideas of energy security and the entrepreneurial state, as interpreted by government elites, shaped the mix of governance strategies from 2010 to 2019. Changes in context have shaped concerted efforts to advance institutional restructuring; this, in turn, has reinforced an alliance between economic actors and state managers. In addition, the central and local governments’ investment policy objectives are based on the co-evolution of industrial policies using phased adjustments. This investigation focuses on the supply side, infrastructure, demand side, and institutional design (Trencher et al. 2020) in the field. Through these in-depth empirical understandings, I investigate the typologies of the governance measures embedded in institutional constraints and explain how adaptive strategies have been deployed to accelerate emerging technology industries. The process by which the government guides manufacturing to maximize the creation of new industries in ecologically oriented markets has been inherited from other green technology, techno-industrial governance, and economic institutional patterns that have emerged rapidly in recent years. However, in the article, I contend that the BEV and FCV industries are not positioned as strategic industries, so the economic structure’s advantage level provides leeway and discretionary powers that enable local governments to create such policy markets. Balancing excessive protection and innovation drivers is the ultimate key to accelerating the production and diffusion of hydrogen and fuel-cell technologies.

Keywords: climate technology; developmental state; fuel cell vehicles; local governance, China





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