26 Jul 2018 05:30pm

Clean Energy Race or Global Collaboration? Wind and Solar Energy in Germany, China, and the United States

Jonas Nahm
Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

The popular notion of a “Clean Energy Race” has often depicted the success of national wind and solar industries in the global economy as a zero-sum game. The rise of China’s renewable energy sectors in particular has been regarded as a threat to the West, leading to calls for trade barriers from politicians and industry associations alike. Based on extensive qualitative field research, I show that collaboration among wind and solar firms in China and Germany has been critical to the development of renewable energy technologies and the industries that produce them. It is because of — and not despite of — the contributions of Chinese renewable energy firms that vibrant wind and solar sectors have been established and maintained in Germany. This suggests that trade barriers create unnecessary obstacles to such collaboration and have detrimental impact on the development of clean energy technologies critical to combatting climate change.

Jonas Nahm is Assistant Professor of Energy, Resources, and Environment at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Jonas studies the political economy of development and industrial upgrading in green industries, the politics of innovation, and the political economy of the energy sector. In addition to China – his primary focus for the exploration of these themes – Jonas’ research draws on cases in Germany and the United States. His current book project “Varieties of Innovation: The Creation of Wind and Solar Industries in China, Germany, and the United States” examines the mechanisms through which distinct patterns of innovation have emerged in renewable energy sectors in each of these locations. A new research project investigates the politics of greening the auto sector in China, Germany, and the United States. Before joining the faculty, Jonas was a Postdoctoral Fellow for International and Public Affairs at the Watson Institute at Brown University. He holds a PhD in Political Science from MIT. 

This event is co-hosted by the Energy Transition Hub, the Australian-German Climate and Energy College and the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Studies at the University of Melbourne


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