Accession Number:



China's Emerging Capabilities in Energy Technology Innovation and Development

Descriptive Note:

Final rept. 1 Aug 2012-31 Jul 2015

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



This project studied firm-level capabilities in China for technology innovation in several energy-related domains civilian nuclear power, wind turbine manufacturing, and solar photovoltaic panel fabrication. The research documented patterns of knowledge creation, transfer, and dissemination between Chinese and overseas firms, as well as among Chinese firms themselves. The research also examined the interaction between Chinese firms engaged in energy-related innovation and Chinese governmental agencies conducting various aspects of industrial policy. The research addressed policy concerns surrounding Chinas technology capabilities, as well as Chinas ability to acquire knowledge through participation in global supply chains for high-technology products. The work also addressed theoretical issues surrounding the role of innovation in industrial development more generally, effectively arguing that the contemporary Chinese experience suggests a new form of late industrialization in which innovation surrounding late-stage technology commercialization plays a vital role. Methodologically, this project developed original qualitative data collected primarily at the firm level both within China and globally. Data were collected primarily through participant observation and semi-structured interviews. Our empirical data suggest that China-based firms in the renewable energy domain namely in wind turbine production and solar PV cellmodule fabrication -- have developed a unique form of innovative manufacturing, one based on the simultaneous management of tempo, scaling, and cost reduction. For particularly complex energy technology systems, such as civilian nuclear power plants, the greatest challenges involve not new technology development, but rather systems integration. In these domains, Chinese firms have not necessarily achieved significant advances.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Electric Power Production and Distribution
  • Manufacturing and Industrial Engineering and Control of Production Systems

Distribution Statement: