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Cambridge Global Challenges


Hosted by the Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability, Professor of Climate Change Policy Laura Diaz Anadon will lead an informal discussion on how government policy shapes energy technology progress and, in turn, how technology characteristics affect the ability of governments to meet different energy goals.

Laura will introduce the topic "The impact of policy on the low-carbon transition: opening the black box of energy technologies” by presenting some examples.  This will includes some her recent research on explaining why China has about twice the installed wind capacity in the United States but gets about the same energy out.  


This talk will present a paper explaining why China has about twice the installed wind capacity in the United States but gets about the same energy out. We develop a framework to explain the performance of the Chinese and US wind sectors, accounting for a comprehensive set of driving factors. We apply this framework to a novel dataset of virtually all wind farms installed in China and the United States through the end of 2013. We first estimate the wind sector’s technical potential using a methodology that produces consistent estimates for both countries. Our findings underscore that the larger gap between actual performance and technical potential in China compared to the United States is significantly driven by delays in grid connection (14% of the gap) and curtailment due to constraints in grid management (10% of the gap), two challenges of China’s wind power expansion covered extensively in the literature. However, our findings show that China’s underperformance is also driven by suboptimal turbine model selection (31% of the gap), wind farm siting (23% of the gap), and turbine hub heights (6% of the gap)—factors that have received less attention in the literature and, crucially, are locked-in for the lifetime of wind farms. This suggests that besides addressing grid connection delays and curtailment, China will also need policy measures to address turbine siting and technology choices to achieve its national goals and increase utilization up to US levels.


Professor Laura Diaz Anadon holds the chaired Professorship of Climate Change Policy at the Department of Land Economy at the University of Cambridge. At Cambridge she is also a Bye-Fellow at Peterhouse, a Fellow at C-EENRG, and an associate researcher of the Energy Policy Research Group. She is also a Research Associate at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) at Harvard University.


The event is open for all to attend and there will be some refreshments, please do come along to join the discussion

Tuesday, 26 June, 2018 - 14:30 to 16:00
Event location: 
Rayleigh Seminar Room, Maxwell Centre, University of Cambridge
Cambridge Global Challenges is a Strategic Research Initiative of the University of Cambridge that aims to enhance the contribution of its research towards addressing global challenges and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

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