Three essays on energy economics and policy

Open Access
Li, Zhi
Graduate Program:
Energy and Mineral Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
August 11, 2015
Committee Members:
  • Seth Adam Blumsack, Dissertation Advisor
  • Zhen Lei, Dissertation Advisor
  • Seth Adam Blumsack, Committee Chair
  • Zhen Lei, Committee Chair
  • Joel Reid Landry, Committee Member
  • Kala Krishna, Committee Member
  • Innovation
  • Patent
  • Learning
  • Energy efficient
  • Industrial policy
  • Export restriction
  • Innovation system
Many changes are needed to shift the economy from business as usual to a sustainable track in both developed and developing countries. Technology innovation, especially related to clean energy and energy efficient, is needed to meet the requirement of such economy shift, and is receiving considerable and increasing attention. Governments have applied large numbers of energy and environmental policies to stimulate the clean energy innovations and support the development of related industries. Hence, it is important and necessary to better understand and assess the impact of policy instruments and key factors in the clean energy sector. My dissertation include three studies related to the clean energy technologies and the industry development. Several conclusions are drawn. First, by investigating the effect of “innovating-by-implementing” in the context of the US LEED building program, I find that implementation experience of utilizing energy efficient technologies in building construction and renovation makes important contribution to innovations in energy efficient building technologies. The second study examines the impact of a specific industry policy – export restriction on raw materials – on rare earth downstream industries, which is related to a lot of clean energy products. The result suggests that China’s REEs export restriction policies have worked effectively as an industrial policy to induce FDIs and technology transfer by foreign downstream firms and promote domestic downstream industries. The third study analyzes the US innovation related to REEs technologies in the context of innovation system, and it shows that the US has lost its leadership in downstream innovation in REEs, in response to the removal of upstream producers in the innovation system.