This spring our Harvard-China Project researchers led an international effort to analyze the technical and economic viability for China to move towards carbon-negative electric power generation. Their research, which explores utilizing two forms of green energy: coal-bioenergy gasification and carbon capture and storage, was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
China Project researchers also found that the warming Indian Ocean, caused by global climate change, may be causing a slow decline in wind power in India. Their study, published in Science Advances, explains that despite a heavy investment in wind power, the Indian monsoon is weakening as a result of warmer waters, leading to a steady decline in wind-generated power.
The China Project also co-sponsored or participated in a number of cross-university interdisciplinary events this semester, including a book talk with Harvard Law School, and two events co-organized with the Harvard Asia Center, one of which was a panel discussion on the implications of climate change for Asia, geared for non-scientists. Moderated by China Project chair Prof. Michael McElroy, it featured faculty from the Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard Chan School of Public Health, the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and the Harvard Kennedy School--Elsie Sunderland, Peter Huybers, Steve Wofsy, and John Holdren. Other events included a Harvard-Yenching Institute workshop titled “Sensation, Perception, and Policy Intervention: Air Pollution in China and Beyond,” organized and chaired by visiting scholar Prof. Hong Wei of Tsinghua University. In addition to these larger events, the China Project continued its research seminar series with talks on the responses of boreal forests in northeastern China to climate change; sensitivities of PM2.5 in China to emissions of precursor gases; and the responses of Chinese interprovincial electricity markets to surging renewable power generation.
Research Associate Xinyu Chen is profiled in this newsletter. Xinyu's career has focused on finding the unexpected barriers to progress in developing smart grids in China. In a recent paper for the journal Nature Energy, Xinyu — along with co-authors from the Harvard-China Project, Executive Director Chris Nielsen and Faculty Chair Prof. Michael McElroy — looked at electric vehicle charging in China, and found that the relevant emissions gains were dependent on how the vehicles are charged. Another core factor: the type of vehicle being charged. A story on Xinyu is available on the China Project blog.
Finally, Harvard President Larry Bacow visited China in his first overseas trip as Harvard’s new president. He gave a speech at Peking University that traced Harvard’s historical and ongoing ties to China and highlighted how collaborative relationships between Chinese and American academics can serve as “sources of strength through tough economic, political, and social times.” In the Harvard Gazette’s coverage of Bacow’s trip, the Harvard-China Project—which has been collaborating with scholars at Chinese universities since 1993—was cited as an example of the type of academic engagement with China that the President had advocated.
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Spring 2019 Newsletter