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Queen Mary University of LondonQueen Mary University of London
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School of Engineering and Materials Science
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PhD Thesis: Techno-economic Transition towards a Hydrogen Economy

Author: TEZCAKAR, Merve

Year: 2010

Supervisor(s): Stuart Peters, Mike Reece

The research conducted is in the field of innovation and focuses on the UK energy sector. The key theme of the study is the transition towards a hydrogen economy with fuel cell technologies at the epicentre and takes into account the relevant scientific, technological, economic and policy issues. In order to provide an understanding of the factors that affect techno-economic transitions to alternative energy systems, the thesis investigates the historical transition processes such as the transition to electrification in the early 1900s and recent transitions to CCGT and renewable energy systems (wind, biofuels and solar) that have taken place since the late 1980s.

As the developmental status of hydrogen technologies lay at the heart of these transitions, a thorough analysis of the hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, the R&D requirements, and innovations required in different scientific fields (including materials science) to develop these technologies is conducted. At the same time, as other factors such as sustainability, climate change and security of supply concerns can greatly affect the direction of the transition processes, that includes R&D activities and investment in alternative energy technologies, an overview of these factors is also provided.

The analysis employs a new theoretical framework that combines two well established theories in the literature, Techno-economic Transitions and Large Technological Systems. By using this new framework, the technological transition towards a hydrogen energy system can be analysed at three levels, (global, national and local). The analysis is narrowed down to the local level in order to determine the timing of a transition in London and how it can form the foundation for a wider a transition at the national level based on alternative technologies.