Institute of Economic and Cultural Geography Research Research projects
Global socio-technical regimes in aviation: opportunities and obstacles for green hydrogen technologies (ReLuH2)

Global socio-technical regimes in aviation: opportunities and obstacles for green hydrogen technologies (ReLuH2)

Led by:  Prof. Dr. Ingo Liefner; Dr. Sebastian Losacker (JLU Gießen); Dr. Kerstin J. Schaefer
Team:  Lennart Gruen
Year:  2023
Funding:  Flexible Funds, Leibniz University Hannover
Duration:  2023 - 2024

Hydrogen-propulsion is one of multiple technological solutions currently discussed that aim to achieve climate neutrality in aviation – one of the ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors of the global economy. Hydrogen-propulsion can thereby provide certain benefits over alternative solutions like sustainable aviation fuels, like its relatively low resource requirements and potential for long-term economic efficiency. Yet, it is also a disruptive innovation, requiring substantial changes to aircraft, airport infrastructure as well as regulations. Conducting such disruptive technology development in the short time frame given by fast-paced climate change constitutes, however, a major challenge to the global aviation industry, which is, since many decades, rather focused on incremental innovations. Nevertheless, one can observe first initializations of hydrogen-powered aviation projects by some incumbent aircraft manufacturers as well as a handful of start-up companies in the field, which – despite the high market entry barriers of aviation and their own resource-scarcity – set up to compete with the incumbent aviation industry. Aircraft manufacturers are, however, only one part of the aviation innovation system: Past research in innovation studies and transition studies have shown that other actors, such as regulators, users, test centers and adjunct industries, as well as the institutions of the innovation system which shape all its activities, are pivotal in transition processes and technological developments in general.

The aim of the present research project is to gain an in-depth comprehension of the structure and dynamics of the technological innovation system of hydrogen-powered aviation, in order to understand its current strengths and weaknesses, or opportunities for improvement. A special focus in this regard lays on a comparison of the innovation activities of incumbent versus emergent aircraft manufacturers and their respective role in current as well as future hydrogen-powered aviation.


Presentations to Scientific Audiences

  • Gruen, L.; Hölzen, J.; Liefner, I.; Losacker, S.; Hanke-Rauschenbach, R. (2024): TIS Subsystems: The case of hydrogen-powered aviation. STS Conference 2024. Graz 07.05.2024.