Managing electric power system transition in China

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This research studies the low carbon transition of the electric power sector in China using a multi-level perspective (MLP) of niches, socio-technical regime, and landscape, as well as literature on innovation systems. Three lines of thought on transition process are integrated in the paper to probe the possible transition pathways in China. A MLP analysis is presented to understand the current niches, regime, and landscape of China’s power sector. A brief analysis on the future macroscopic socio-economic transition in the process of industrialization, urbanization, and modernization of Chinese society and its implication on power landscape are depicted to prove the urgency and magnitude of transition in China and why systematic transition management is needed. Five transition pathways, namely reproduction, transformation, substitution, reconfiguration, de-alignment/re-alignment, and reconfiguration, with their possible technology options are presented. The paper goes further to propose an interactive framework for managing the transition to a low carbon energy system in China. Representative technology options are appraised by employing innovation theory to indicate the logic of policymaking within the framework. Institutional gaps in realizing the transition are also addressed. The work presented in the paper will be useful in informing policy-makers and other stakeholders and may provide references for power sector transition management in other countries.

Research Areas: 
Multi-level Perspective
Energy Transition Management
Power Systems
Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
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Full Citation: 
Yuan, J.-H.; Xu, Y.; Hu, Z.; Yu, Z.-F.; Liu, J.-Y.; Hu, Z.-G.; Xu, M. (2012) “Managing electric power system transition in China.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 16 (8): 5660-5677.
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