Understanding how the hydrogen technological innovation system in the Netherlands can be accelerated
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To meet climate targets and avoid radical and irreversible climate change, society needs to drastically reduce Green House Gas emissions. This requires to transit away from the current fossil-fuel-based energy system to meet targets for greenhouse emissions set out in the European Green Deal (2019). In this respect, hydrogen technologies have the potential to fulfill a variety of different functions in the energy system. Hydrogen solutions have emerged as having favorable characteristics for certain applications. These characteristics include specific sectors in which electricity can not be applied or for long-term energy storage. For the latter application, electricity is currently restricted by limitations in battery technology. Therefore, the development of a hydrogen value chain is regarded as a valuable addition to electricity in the energy transition. In the Netherlands, this potential of hydrogen has been acknowledged for decades, as the country has extensive natural gas infrastructure and experience with power in the form of gas. However, the hydrogen innovation system in the country remains in a state of lock-in for a long time and only recently accelerated as a result of external shocks such as climate change. The Technological Innovation System (TIS) framework has been applied as the theoretical basis to analyze the hydrogen transition. This study aimed to investigate the dynamics in the hydrogen innovation system hampering its development and to recommend how this can be overcome. In doing so, this study exposed different barriers that may prevent the hydrogen system from developing. These barriers have been linked to the theory of systemic problems, to fully understand how the innovation processes and structural components of the system are connected. Accordingly, this study has conducted a qualitative event-history analysis from 2017-2022, in combination with interviews with hydrogen innovation system actors. The results indicated several barriers which are present and which are withholding the system from accelerated development. First, this study has demonstrated that hard-institutional failures are the main barrier. The supporting institutional frameworks needed for the system to develop lack clarity, are absent, or do not support system development. Secondly, these problems induce barriers to resource mobilization and market formation, which prevent the system from developing into the next phase. Like previous studies, this paper has demonstrated that these systemic problems are not independent and induce a hampering innovation system. This is induced through the interactions between system functions or missing structural components.