DS02 - Energie, propre, sûre et efficace

Energy transition, territories, hydrogen ans society – TETHYS


The TETHYS research project is part of the field of technical democracy and proposes to answer, in close collaboration with the actors of the territory, a set of questions related to the process of energy transition related to hydrogen, from the follow-up Demonstrators for the «putting into democratization« of issues that are both general and very practical, aims to go beyond the traditional approaches formulated in terms of social acceptability of risks.

Produce a societal, multidisciplinary and comparative analysis of the setting in democracy of the hydrogen energy vector in three French territories.

The challenge of this research is to produce a societal analysis of the challenges of the energy transition based on an innovative empirical and experimental device, at the intersection of the spheres of knowledge, governance, research and innovation. practices (uses). It is based on a newly created dedicated structure in Caen. This experiment will be completed by a sociological investigation work with the actors of the sector. The multidisciplinary vocation (sociology, epistemology, psychology, geography, law, philosophy) of the team and the innovative nature and applied to the industrial context of the project justify the use of ANR funding on collaborative research project (PRC) involving three universities: Caen, Nantes (Polytechnic School of the University) and Burgundy) and an associative structure dedicated to experimental research («The Dome« / Relay Science).

WP 2
Newspaper. The 1,500 press articles gave rise to a synthesis, carried out by Esdras N. TAKAM, of all the projects related to hydrogen (60 Hydrogen projects in all) deployed on the national territory between 2015 and 2018).
WP 3
Sociological surveys. As planned, a panel of 250 students and 250 entrepreneurs for each of the three selected sites (Normandy, Burgundy, Côte d'Azur), or 1,500 people in all, was formed. It was considered relevant, before the questionnaire itself (which took a year to be completed), to submit the respondents to a conference presenting the hydrogen stakes, insofar as very few people are familiar with this issue. technology. The presentation, rigorously standard and based on a Power Point developed by A. Lalo, lasts about 20 minutes.

WP 1
Living lab. The living lab activity took place as originally planned, organized by the specialized partner of the TETHYS consortium, Le Dôme. A total of 14 workshops have welcomed more than a thousand participants have been held since 2018: 1 evening «the real, the fake and hydrogen«, 2 workshops Turfu «mobility« and «habitat«, 2 presentations of TETHYS in the festival Turfu 2018, 3 «agricultural«, «rural« and «elected« use scenario workshops, 1 «Grand witnesses« conference and 4 «Hydrogen Wednesday« coprototyping workshops. A dedicated animator was recruited by the Dome, often supplemented by other animator during the workshops, in the person of Pauline Ducoulombier. These data are in operation.

WP 4. Legal watch on the evolution of the applicable regime (Government's Hydrogen Plan + publication of a decree effective January 1, 2019) and doctrine.

We asked ourselves the following question: are hydrogen «energy vector« technologies easy to use? In the current state of politics, of technical knowledge, of means of investment, can one really (even if one wanted it) to decentralize them? Electrolyzers have a yield making them unattractive to the mass market. Perhaps we can not ask hydrogen what it can not give, nor especially to accomplish the miracle of replacing oil in its practicality, its cost and in the social organization that this energy system has. produced. It is a complex and expensive technology, quite dangerous and which requires a high level of safety and security of the installations. In short, it is not certain that it can be «user-friendly«. Therefore, the implementation of the living lab approach is weakened: it can no longer make participants «key players in the innovation process« and limits their scope of action to the question of uses. By moving away from the confrontation with the material, the «doing« and its ethics, the procedure living lab does not allow to develop the critical spirit of the participants (Crawford, 2010), nor to build a common political order which would be based on a practical activity (Dardot & Laval, 2014). Finally, at the mid-point of the project, and contrary to expectations, it appears that the initiative initiated tends to favor a depoliticization of the issue of energy transition and hydrogen

The investigations are in progress. All student questionnaires (divided into four subject areas: science, management, economics / law and humanities) were completed. The links of the team with our respective Universities greatly facilitated the work. More difficult is the task of mobilizing entrepreneurs (by definition very busy and solicited). 14 participatory conference-debates were organized in the PACA Region and 292 questionnaires recorded by Anne Lalo. Meetings are planned in Normandy and Burgundy, with the support of the Regional Development Agency (ADN), the Region and requested business clubs. It should be noted that the theme of hydrogen generally arouses the interest of the entrepreneurial and industrial (SME) sector.

A role play (serious game) on energy was developed as part of the living lab activity. A specialist of the game was recruited for a period of 20 days by the Dome to prepare the game, in part with the research team dedicated to the Lot 1. This game is brou

Research question :
This research project lies within “technical” democracy research and aims to answer a set of question regarding energy transition through hydrogen. These questions concern issues ranging from an inventory of local experimentations or experiences to local democracy of issues both general and practical and beyond social acceptability approaches. It is designed in tight collaboration with local institutions and a multidisciplinary consortium with multiple locations grounded on two federative structures: la Maison de la Recherche en Sciences Humaines de Caen (MRSH) and its homologue.
We start with the assumption that energy transition (and its technologies) shall also be social. To vertical and hierarchical processes impulsed by industrial entrepreneurs or regional authorities, may we oppose other definitions of transition? Are there new transition referents to invent to reach a decentralised model of territories? How shall technic work as a federative channel to shape environmental citizenship rather than as a filter to regulate access to transition means? THETYS has the ambition to bring concrete answers to all these questions structured on four lines of work and to share with a large number of stakeholders
The issue of this research is to produce a societal analysis of energy transition issues building on an innovative experimental scheme, at the crossroad of knowledge, governance, research (and innovation) and practices (uses). It will rely on a dedicated structure recently settled in Caen: a living lab called “Le Dôme”, using it a full research tool. It implies, at a second level, to study scientifically this “scientific object” that will serve as a transition operator.
This experimentation will be enriched by a significant and unparalleled (in France) sociological survey toward two specific key actors: students and entrepreneurs. Regarding entrepreneurs, the issue is to assess to what extend they would be incline to use hydrogen vehicles in their companies, and, for students, to measure their attitude towards renting hydrogen bike for home – university commutes. To this end, we will compare the populations of three regions: our two main regions (Normandy and Bourgogne) and Côte d’Azur serving as a witness group for comparison.
This research also aims to underline the way regional press reflects emerging innovative experiences through the country. As a matter of fact, the success and spreading of hydrogen at an industrial level strongly relies on local uses and niche market. Local press is to this regard an important communication channel to raise awareness and inform to a large public. This promising source of energy may be underdeveloped if potential users don’t focus on it.
Finally, a juridical and sociological reflexion on social norms will be held. This leads to questioning the choice to frame the issues in term of social acceptability rather than differently, and, to question the potential of moving from transition laws (regulation) to transition right.
Teaching (Sciences Po, Masters), Numerical plateforms, Research seminaires and events.

Project coordinator


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


MSHDijon Maison des Sciences de l'Homme de Dijon
MRSH MRSH - Pôle Risques
CFV Centre François Viète

Help of the ANR 295,585 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: October 2017 - 36 Months

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