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  • Green Innovation in China: China’s Wind Power Industry and the Global Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy by Joanna I. Lewis
  • Herman F. Huang (bio)
Joanna I. Lewis. Green Innovation in China: China’s Wind Power Industry and the Global Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013. xxii, 282 pp. Hardcover $40.00, isbn 978-0-231-15330-0.

China, which is now the world’s top energy user, relies heavily on fossil fuels to satisfy its energy needs. In 2009, coal supplied 70 percent and oil 19 percent of China’s energy, while renewable sources accounted for about 6 percent.1 By comparison, in the United States, oil (35 percent) and natural gas (23 percent) were the primary suppliers of energy, while renewable sources accounted for about 8 percent.2 China has also become the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere.3 In response to growing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, China’s twelfth five-year plan (2011–2015) calls for carbon dioxide emissions per unit gross domestic product (GDP) to be lowered [End Page 623] 17 percent and energy consumption per unit GDP 16 percent by 2015.4 It also sets a target that nonfossil fuels are to meet 11.4 percent of total energy needs.

While hydroelectric is China’s predominant source of renewable energy, China is developing its abundant wind resources. In fact, the total installed wind power capacity more than doubled from 2009 to 2011 to 62 gigawatts.5 Continued rapid expansion of wind power is envisioned, with capacity targeted to reach 200 gigawatts by 2020.6

Green Innovation in China: China’s Wind Power Industry and the Global Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy, by Joanna I. Lewis, is an informative account of technological innovation in China’s domestic wind power industry. Lewis is an assistant professor of science, technology, and international affairs at Georgetown University. While conducting the research for this book, Lewis interviewed individuals in China and abroad: government officials, employees and former employees of wind turbine companies, and other wind energy experts. Additional information was obtained from government documents, company reports, and industry studies.

This book is composed of seven chapters, a notes section, and a bibliography. The first chapter gives the study context and presents an overview of the book. In chapter 2, Lewis writes about how China is addressing climate change, both through its domestic clean energy policies and its position in international climate negotiations. The origins of the global wind industry and the innovation system in China’s wind industry are covered in chapter 3. A timeline of China’s wind power policies and regulations is provided at the end of the chapter. As described in chapter 4, foreign-owned wind turbine companies started to enter the Chinese market in the 1980s. Since then, Chinese companies have emerged and now dominate the market. The next chapter is a case study of Goldwind, one of China’s top domestic wind turbine companies. Lewis examines how Goldwind acquired technology, its experiences in China, and its plans for overseas expansion. In chapter 6, the author compares wind industry development and technology transfer strategies in China, South Korea, and India. The final chapter discusses past, present, and potential future cooperation between the United States and China on clean energy. In the extensive endnotes section, Lewis not only cites her sources, but also offers supplemental information. Both English- and Chineselanguage references—including books, journal articles, and websites—are listed in the twenty-nine-page bibliography.

Thirty-two figures and four tables effectively complement the text. Among these, figure 3.12 is a map that shows the countries to which Chinese wind turbine manufacturers have exported their turbines, established offices, or engaged in technology transfers. A series of graphs in chapter 4 shows how several companies’ wind generating capacities and market shares have changed over the years. Table 5.1 identifies the types and sources of technology transfers used by individual Chinese companies. [End Page 624]

Several changes would improve this book. Major concepts such as innovation systems (chap. 3) and technological leapfrogging (chap. 6) should be clearly...


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