Sustainability Science Program

Tian Tang

Tian Tang

Tian TangMs. Tian Tang
Sustainability Science Program
Kennedy School of Government
Mailbox 81
Harvard University
79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Office: 502 Rubenstein Building
Tel: (1) 617-496-0739
Email: tian_tang@hks.harvard.edu
Group affiliation: Giorgio Ruffolo Doctoral Research Fellow

Tian Tang is a joint Giorgio Ruffolo Doctoral Research Fellow in the Sustainability Science Program and the Energy Technology Innovation Policy project, a joint project of the Science Technology and Public Policy Program and the Environment and Natural Resources Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. She is a PhD candidate in Public Administration at Syracuse University. Her research focuses on assessing the impacts of energy policies on the development and deployment of renewable energy technologies in China and US, and analysing how these policies interplay with key actors in the electricity sector – including electric equipment manufacturers, power generators, and transmission and distribution operators – to drive the technological changes. Her dissertation examines what has led to the technological change in wind power industry in China and US from a technological learning perspective. Tian is contributing to collaborative work with the Initiative on Sustainable Energy Development in Chinaled by Professor Henry Lee. She is extending her previous work on China’s wind industry to explore how the inadequacy of transmission grids affect the penetration of wind power in China. Tian is a recipient of the Maxwell Fellowship (2011-2013), AEON Education and Environment Fund Scholarship (2009), and the Outstanding Graduate Awards from Tsinghua University and the City of Beijing (2008). She received a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Economics from Tsinghua University (2008). She holds a Master of Public Management from School of Public Policy and Management in Tsinghua University (2011). Her faculty hosts are Henry Lee and Laura Diaz Anadon.

The impacts of transmission barriers on wind power diffusion in China
This project asks how the inadequacy of transmission grids affects the diffusion of wind power in China.

To achieve sustainable development and reduce carbon emissions in China, increasing the share of wind power in China’s energy mix is a promising solution. With policy support from the Chinese government, China’s wind industry has developed rapidly over the past ten years and China has become the world’s largest generator of wind power in terms of cumulative installed capacity since 2010. However, the biggest challenge for the continuous development of wind power in China is the mismatch between the massive wind capacity expansion and the inadequacy of the power transmission grid. This project investigates this emerging challenge and examines how access to transmission grid and the capacity of transmission grid affects: 1) the actual utilization of the existing wind capacity, measured by the capacity factor of wind farms; and 2) the share of wind power in electricity generation across provinces, which are two important indicators of wind power diffusion in China. This research will be the first empirical research that attempts to quantify these transmission issues that could influence wind generation, and estimate the impact and size of these transmission factors. These results will help policy analysts in the electricity sector get a more accurate estimation about the losses from curtailment of wind generation due to the transmission inadequacy, and inform Chinese government’s policymaking on improving the transmission infrastructure and promoting technologies for wind power integration.

Spatial dynamics in the knowledge base of emerging clean-tech sectors:  A patent analysis of globally leading solar photovoltaics manufacturing firms
Christian Binz, Tian Tang, and Joern Huenteler

Innovation and knowledge in clean-tech industries develops in increasingly globalized networks, whose dynamics are not yet well understood by academia and policy making. Solar photovoltaics (PV) is a case in point for a sector that is evolving in a strongly globalized pattern, with several spatial shifts in technological leadership over very short periods of time. Especially the sector’s most recent history attracted a lot of attention. In less than ten years, solar PV manufacturing almost completely shifted to China, strongly challenging Western PV firms’ competitive position. A lively debate has emerged on whether Chinese companies leapfrogged to the global technological frontier, making Western industries fall behind also in terms of their technological knowledge base or if they essential-ly only transferred low value-added production know-how. Several qualitative case studies tried to address this question recently, but a more quantitative assessment of the PV sector’s knowledge base is still missing. This project aims at addressing this gap based on an extensive patent analysis of the world’s leading solar PV companies. It will extract the patent records of 15 key companies in the USA, EU and China and analyze their patent counts, the geographic scope of patenting activities as well as the geographic reach of co-patenting and patent citation networks. Based on social network analysis it derives an aggregate picture of the world’s PV knowledge base and identifies recent spatial shifts in the sector’s innovation activities. Ultimately, this will enable us to discuss near-to mid-term scenarios for the competitive positions of Western and Asian PV companies, to derive new stylized hypotheses for the ‘geography of transitions’ literature, and to inform policy making with a global view on relevant innovation processes in emerging cleantech industries.

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