Book - MIT Press

The Globalization of Clean Energy Technology: Lessons from China

| April 2014


The development and deployment of cleaner energy technologies have become globalized phenomena. Yet despite the fact that energy-related goods account for more than ten percent of international trade, policy makers, academics, and the business community perceive barriers to the global diffusion of these emerging technologies. Experts point to problems including intellectual property concerns, trade barriers, and developing countries' limited access to technology and funding. In this book, Kelly Gallagher uses analysis and case studies from China's solar photovoltaic, gas turbine, advanced battery, and coal gasification industries to examine both barriers and incentives in clean energy technology transfer.

Gallagher finds that the barriers are not as daunting as many assume; these technologies already cross borders through foreign direct investment, licensing, joint R&D, and other channels. She shows that intellectual property infringement is not as widespread as business leaders fear and can be managed, and that firms in developing countries show considerable resourcefulness in acquiring technology legally. She finds that financing does present an obstacle, especially when new cleaner technologies compete with entrenched, polluting, and often government-subsidized traditional technologies. But the biggest single barrier, she finds, is the failure of government to provide sensible policy incentives. The case studies show how government, through market-formation policy, can unleash global market forces. Gallagher's findings have theoretical significance as well; she proposes a new model of global technology diffusion that casts doubt on aspects of technology transfer theory.

About the Author

Kelly Sims Gallagher is Director of the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy and Associate Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. She is the author ofChina Shifts Gears: Automakers, Oil, Pollution, and Development (MIT Press).

Praise for The Globalization of Clean Energy: Lessons from China

"Thank you to Kelly Sims Gallagher for this important contribution to the literature on technology transfer, clean energy, and China. Her thorough research, thoughtful analysis, and clear writing make this a must-read for anyone working on these topics."
David Sandalow, Inaugural Fellow, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University; author of Freedom from Oil

"Kelly Sims Gallagher's The Globalization of Clean Energy Technology is an essential text for anyone seeking to understand the technical intricacies of technology diffusion. Gallagher's focus on how green technology is transferred to and from China is artfully built around four case studies of gas turbines, cleaner vehicle batteries, solar photovoltaics, and coal gasification. She provides an in-the-trenches account of the challenges of export controls, cost barriers, research and development limitations, and market failures. She debunks myths about the key role of intellectual property disputes to clarify the critical importance of market-formation policies. Impressive, thoroughly researched, and important for global sustainability."—Judith Shapiro, Director, Natural Resources and Sustainable Development MA, School of International Service at American University; author of China's Environmental Challenges and Mao's War against Nature

"A most insightful look into China's clean energy technology innovation. The book provides novel perspectives and a most welcome debunking of traditional myths on technology transfer barriers to clean energy technology development and diffusion."
Arnulf Grubler, Professor in the Field of Energy and Technology, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University; Acting Program Leader, Transitions to New Technologies, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria

About This Book

The Globalization of Clean Energy Technology: Lessons from China

The Globalization of Clean Energy Technology: Lessons from China
For more information on this publication: Please contact Energy Technology Innovation Policy
For Academic Citation: Gallagher, Kelly Sims. The Globalization of Clean Energy Technology: Lessons from China. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, April 2014.