Worldwide Universities Network Workshop on The Political Economy of Energy Transition toward Renewables

31 October 2018 | The Chinese University of Hong Kong



The Global China Research Programme, the Department of Geography and Resource Management, the Institute of Environment, Energy and Sustainability, and MSSc Programme in Public Policy of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) co-hosted the WUN Workshop on The Political Economy of Energy Transition toward Renewables, on 31 October. The workshop assembled scholars from international and interdisciplinary research backgrounds.


Through comparing major countries/regions with significant renewable energy development, including Asia (China, Japan, and Indonesia), Australia, Europe (UK, Germany, and France), and North America (US), this workshop aimed to reach a deep understanding of the fuel competition between renewables, specifically wind and solar, from the political economy perspective. It examined the factors that affect the tendency toward investing more in solar or in wind in different countries over the years. The country case studies were compiled, presented, and discussed at the workshop.


As a prelude to the workshop, Prof. Fanny M. Cheung, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of CUHK, delivered the welcome message. The conference consisted of four thematic discussion sessions, which attracted nearly 60 attendees. The four thematic discussion sessions were aimed at facilitating academic exchange and engaged 16 panellists from 10 countries. The panellists participated in frank and critical discussions on various topics and made key suggestions in specific aspects.


The first session was moderated by Prof. Regina Betz of The ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences of Switzerland on Asia / Eurasia Energy policies. Four presentations were delivered by Dr Rainer Quitzow (Scientific Project Leader, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Germany), Prof. Vinish Kathuria (Professor, Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India), Prof. Ambuj Sagar (Head and Vipula and Mahesh Chaturvedi Professor of Policy Studies, School of Public Policy, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India), Prof. Anatole Boute (Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, CUHK) with Dr Alexey Zhikharev (Partner, Power Section Practice, Vygon Consulting, Russia). Dr Quitzow compared newcomer Chinese and incumbent German solar PV firms. Prof. Kathuria used India as a case for testing policy effectiveness for increased RE installations. Prof. Sagar evaluated renewable energy in India. Prof. Boute and Dr Zhikharev examined local content requirements and the vested interests of Russia’s solar energy policy.


The second session was moderated by Prof. Tihomir Ancev of The University of Sydney of Australia on China energy development. Four presentations were delivered by Prof. Chu Wei (Professor, Department of Energy Economics, Renmin University of China), Prof. Lei Zhu (Associate Professor, Department of Applied Economics, Beihang University, China) with Prof. Yuan Xu (Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Resource Management, CUHK), Prof. Regina Betz (Head, Center for Energy and the Environment, The ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland), Dr Kevin T. S. Lo (Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Hong Kong Baptist University). Prof. Wei analysed market segmentation and wind curtailment in China. Prof. Zhu and Prof. Xu examined the comparative advantage strategy for China’s solar PV development and industry. Prof. Betz compared on-shore wind and PV investments in China. Dr Lo discussed authoritarianism and the political economy of PV-based poverty alleviation in China.

The third session was moderated by Prof. Anatole Boute of the CUHK Faculty of Law on European Union / United States energy policies. Four presentations were delivered by Dr Gilles Lepesant (Senior Researcher, Centre Marc Bloch (Berlin), CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research), France), Dr Rainer Quitzow, Prof. Peter Taylor (Chair in Sustainable Energy Systems, School of Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Leeds, United Kingdom), and Prof. David Victor (Professor, School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California, San Diego, United States). Dr Lepesant introduced challenges ahead in the French renewable energy transition. Dr Quitzow used Spain and the Czech Republic as a case to show the dismantling of renewable energy policies. Prof. Taylor analysed wind and solar PV developments in the United Kingdom. Prof. Victor, though he could not attend in person, gave a video presentation about the political economy of massive deployment of renewables in the United States.


The last session was moderated by Prof. Yuan Xu of the CUHK Department of Geography and Resource Management on energy development of the OECD Asia-Pacific regions. Four presentations were delivered by Prof. Tihomir Ancev (Associate Professor, School of Economics, The University of Sydney, Australia), Prof. Chunbo Ma (Associate Professor, UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia), Prof. Hideaki Shiroyama (Professor, Graduate School of Public Policy, The University of Tokyo, Japan), and Dr Daphne N. Y. Mah (Director, Asian Energy Studies Centre, Hong Kong Baptist University). Prof. Ancev examined the merit order effect of renewable electricity generation in Australia. Prof. Ma evaluated optimal wind and solar penetration in the Australian national electricity market. Prof. Shiroyama explained Japan’s preference for PV and recent attempt for balancing. Dr Mah showed the political economy of South Korea’s socio-technical energy transitions. The workshop ended with short closing remarks by Prof. Xu.