Regulatory Barriers to Decarbonizing China's Power Sector


Thursday, February 19, 2015, 4:00pm to 6:00pm


Pierce Hall 100F, 29 Oxford St., Cambridge MA

Speaker: Michael Davidson

Michael DAVIDSON, Ph.D. candidate, Engineering Systems Division, M.I.T.

Sponsored by China Project, Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences


China's power sector is the world’s largest source of GHG emissions, doubling power generation in the last 7 years while adding 80-90 GW of new capacity annually. Research efforts to analyze policy and technology interventions are complicated by this rapid evolution as well as opaque regulatory structures stemming from incomplete electricity sector liberalization efforts. Commenced in 1997, this restructuring created a unique hybrid of central and provincial government oversight of grid functions in co-existence with quasi-competitive markets. In this talk, through the lens of important features of electricity sector policy-making and regulation in China, I will examine the barriers to reducing fossil fuel energy use and adopting low-carbon electricity technologies in the world's largest power system. I will also address several structural reasons why common liberalization steps taken in other countries, such as establishing an independent system operator, have not been successfully implemented.