Recently, Germany announced that they would develop a national hydrogen strategy by the end of this year. The thought is that since "grey hydrogen" is produced by natural gas, "green hydrogen" is produced by using wind power. Excess electricity from the wind farms can be converted into this environmentally friendly hydrogen.
Joshua Bauer / NREL
Enak Ferlemann, the state secretary of the German Federal Ministry of Transport, has even stated that building artificial islands where the electricity is generated could be converted to hydrogen, and then ships could use this hydrogen to refuel or even bring it ashore.
Germany has also joined with Netherlands to sign a joint declaration to increase cooperation on energy transition such as green hydrogen. So what could possibly go wrong? For one, public opposition can come from fossil fuel groups that commonly fund anti-renewable efforts. However, look for opposition from residents who do not have a grasp of what "green hydrogen" is. To counter expected opposition, green hydro companies should be ready to do battle with the right tactics to promote their projects, such as:
What is Green Hydrogen?
For all the public relations tactics, foremost will be the education of the media and public on "what is green hydro and how does it work?" Putting out a video on a project website, along with actual visual demonstrations of the process is critical.
The Use of Digital
Effective use of digital is an important tactic to build grassroots support amongst members of the community and public officials. The most important piece to any digital campaign is to prepare an effective website that regularly updates residents, dispels new myths and disseminates the latest information. To get your project’s message across effectively, website content should be clear and well-organized. This website should also link resources to educate viewers from third party sources and provide downloadable petitions, fact sheets, advocacy guides, infographics and more. Encourage people to sign up in support of the project to gather a supporter database.
Take Advantage of Social Media
Renewable developers that wish to reach local residents with facts would be remiss not to include a social media campaign. Opening dedicated social media accounts for the project creates a defined target audience to reach with regular posts. Paid advertising is cost-effective on social media platforms, and it helps to build your audience and promote both awareness of the project and resources that help the community learn more. Producing video content to share on social media network feeds (either organically or paid) is a dominant tactic to grab your audience’s attention.
Facebook has been putting a significant emphasis on video content. Around 500 million people watch Facebook videos daily. There are 27 million Facebook users in Germany. Producing a one-minute video to allow your audience to obtain key ideas about your project or ways to get involved can be extremely effective in increasing your presence on social media and building support amongst members of the community and public officials. Twitter and Instagram are also great social media network platforms to share content.
Any organic content posted should be boosted as needed by social media marketing. These ads will even help drive website traffic to continuously reach new segments of the population with your convenient resources and myth-dispelling materials.
Get to the Stakeholders
Stakeholders go beyond landowners. While gaining the support of the landowners and immediate neighbors for a new renewable project is essential, remember that stakeholders can include a variety of people and groups, such as former elected officials, business organizations, neighborhood groups, civic and nonprofit groups and provincial stakeholders. Start by reaching out to these groups to set up presentations to members or meeting with leadership. There are many ways stakeholders can help amplify messaging through newsletters, email blasts, social media engagement, events and more.
Communication is often the key to gaining approval on any renewable project, and often it is the difference-maker between project approval and defeat.
Al Maiorino started Public Strategy Group, Inc. in 1995. His firm has developed and managed multiple corporate public affairs campaigns in a variety of industries such as gaming, cable television, retail development, auto racing, energy and residential projects. Additionally, his firm has worked on projects in twenty-six states and three countries.