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Energy innovation and sustainability transitions in China: Building energy efficiency and renewable energy

Zhang, Jingjing LU (2015)
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in English

Buildings account for almost 30% of global CO2 emissions. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), buildings can be made 75% more efficient by using better design. Globally, every year about half of all new buildings are built in China. In addition, the current lack of comfort level in indoor environments indicates that a large increase in energy use can be expected in the next decades. This unsustainability is exacerbated by China’s largely coal fueled energy system – in 2013, 60% of China’s final energy came from coal.

The Chinese government has made tremendous efforts to address the current environmental crisis in its cities. Most of these strategies are... (More)
Popular Abstract in English

Buildings account for almost 30% of global CO2 emissions. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), buildings can be made 75% more efficient by using better design. Globally, every year about half of all new buildings are built in China. In addition, the current lack of comfort level in indoor environments indicates that a large increase in energy use can be expected in the next decades. This unsustainability is exacerbated by China’s largely coal fueled energy system – in 2013, 60% of China’s final energy came from coal.

The Chinese government has made tremendous efforts to address the current environmental crisis in its cities. Most of these strategies are regulatory and focused on technology. There is no doubt that technology is crucial in achieving a sustainable building stock. However, successful technology deployment is only one aspect of transforming the building sector. These technologies are developed, adopted and diffused in a highly complex and constantly changing social environment. Over emphasizing technology as a solution could undermine the potential to realize sustainable goals. The assumption behind this study is that both technology development and institutional and structural change are essential for sustainability transitions in China.

In order to unpack the subtle challenges embedded in the transition, this study applies theories derived from existing studies of systems of technological innovation. Three technical areas are key to China’s adoption of more sustainable buildings: passive house design, renewable energy integration in district heating, and zero-energy buildings. This thesis uses these key technologies as a lens to examine more sustainable change in China’s building sector. It suggests that transformation requires a more holistic view – building codes are a key instrument but the overall innovation system and governance context as well as formal and informal institutions are also important.

I hope that this study can be a valuable contribution to the literature in the fields of energy transitions and sinology. Most importantly, I hope it can help to understand the omnipresent urban environmental crisis in contemporary China, and how to deal with it. (Less)
Abstract
The assumption underlying this thesis is that both technological development and institutional and structural change are required to achieve a more sustainable building sector in China. Earlier literature has taken an approach based on the technological innovation system (TIS) to evaluate and understand the dynamics of technology development and change processes. However, fewer studies have examined the institutional and structural facets of socio-technical systems.

By studying three different technologies relevant to the building sector—passive houses, district heating, and zero-energy buildings—this thesis aims to understand the system structure and dynamics of the innovation system and sustainability transitions in the Chinese... (More)
The assumption underlying this thesis is that both technological development and institutional and structural change are required to achieve a more sustainable building sector in China. Earlier literature has taken an approach based on the technological innovation system (TIS) to evaluate and understand the dynamics of technology development and change processes. However, fewer studies have examined the institutional and structural facets of socio-technical systems.

By studying three different technologies relevant to the building sector—passive houses, district heating, and zero-energy buildings—this thesis aims to understand the system structure and dynamics of the innovation system and sustainability transitions in the Chinese building sector. It applied a TIS approach, together with other theoretical perspectives to complement the lack of understanding of external context in TIS studies.

This thesis concludes with policy options for China and contributes to the existing literature on innovation systems and sustainability transition studies. Empirically, it enhances the conventional policies by offering a set of systemic policy instruments, including the deliberate inclusion of innovation systems and sustainability transitions perspectives into the policy making processes, encouraging broad participation in governance, and addressing integration issues between formal and informal institutions. A further contribution is that the selected technologies are analyzed from a socio-technical systems perspective for the first time in China. Methodologically, this thesis contributes to TIS studies by applying a broader perspective to the analysis of emerging technologies in the Chinese context. An improved understanding of the system structure and dynamics in relation to technology development is a starting for, beneficial discussions and debates about strategies for a more sustainable building sector in China. (Less)
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author
supervisor
opponent
  • Associate Professor Thollander, Patrik, Department of Management and Engineering at Linköping University, Linköping
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
pages
162 pages
defense location
Room K:G, Kemicentrum, Getingevägen 60, Lund University, Faculty of Engineering, LTH.
defense date
2015-12-10 13:00
ISBN
978-91-7623-572-0
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
b2a99803-7e74-4af4-9d96-45814f2a3a0d (old id 8171033)
date added to LUP
2015-11-17 08:18:07
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:19
@phdthesis{b2a99803-7e74-4af4-9d96-45814f2a3a0d,
  abstract     = {The assumption underlying this thesis is that both technological development and institutional and structural change are required to achieve a more sustainable building sector in China. Earlier literature has taken an approach based on the technological innovation system (TIS) to evaluate and understand the dynamics of technology development and change processes. However, fewer studies have examined the institutional and structural facets of socio-technical systems. <br/><br>
By studying three different technologies relevant to the building sector—passive houses, district heating, and zero-energy buildings—this thesis aims to understand the system structure and dynamics of the innovation system and sustainability transitions in the Chinese building sector. It applied a TIS approach, together with other theoretical perspectives to complement the lack of understanding of external context in TIS studies. <br/><br>
This thesis concludes with policy options for China and contributes to the existing literature on innovation systems and sustainability transition studies. Empirically, it enhances the conventional policies by offering a set of systemic policy instruments, including the deliberate inclusion of innovation systems and sustainability transitions perspectives into the policy making processes, encouraging broad participation in governance, and addressing integration issues between formal and informal institutions. A further contribution is that the selected technologies are analyzed from a socio-technical systems perspective for the first time in China. Methodologically, this thesis contributes to TIS studies by applying a broader perspective to the analysis of emerging technologies in the Chinese context. An improved understanding of the system structure and dynamics in relation to technology development is a starting for, beneficial discussions and debates about strategies for a more sustainable building sector in China.},
  author       = {Zhang, Jingjing},
  isbn         = {978-91-7623-572-0},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {162},
  school       = {Lund University},
  title        = {Energy innovation and sustainability transitions in China: Building energy efficiency and renewable energy},
  year         = {2015},
}