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Rapidly diffusing innovation: whether the history of the Internet points the way for hydrogen energy

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This paper identifies conditions for the rapid diffusion of what may be part of the solution for global sustainable energy – hydrogen – by drawing a comparison with the contemporary history of the Internet. The Cold War drove the take-off of the Internet and state regulation ensured that the market on which its rapid diffusion came to depend was not controlled by corporations. To take-off and start to diffuse, hydrogen energy could similarly have to be considered a “public good”. However, the comparison with the Internet reveals differences too. The Internet diffused rapidly among the public at low cost to individual users, starting in the mid 1980s and kicking off in the 1990s. To achieve affordable hydrogen transport in the long term, many drivers might have to forgo cars for public transport. Moreover, global sustainable energy demands cooperation between nations rather than the conflict that spurred the Internet.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Centre for Social Research,University of Salford, Greater ManchesterM5 4WT, UK 2: Centre for Transport and Society, Faculty of Environment and Technology,University of the West of England, Frenchay CampusBristol,BS16 1QY, UK

Publication date: 2012-09-01

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