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Policy choices, central-local relations and policy learning : a case study of the pricing policies for wind energy in China (from 1994 to 2009)

Abstract : Wind energy, like other forms of renewable energy, has the potential to contribute to a more sustainable energy future but it has remained a fringe energy source. The acceleration of wind energy development is difficult and depends on the choices of policy options, policy formulation and other policy-making processes. It is therefore of policy and scholarly interest to examine whether policy learning, a process by which policy stakeholders adjust a policy in response to past experiences and new information (Hall, 1993), may improve the efficacy of the policies for wind energy. In this paper, we assess the role of policy learning in improving the efficacy of energy policies by examining the evolution of the pricing policies for wind energy in China since 1994 when China's first pricing policy for wind was introduced. A distinctive feature of the wind pricing policies in China was the prolonged debate regarding the relative merits of two competing policies - the tendering policy (a policy of price liberalization) and the fixed-price policy (a policy of price regulation). It is in this Chinese context that this paper contrasts the developments of three distinctive phases of pricing policies for wind energy between 1994 and 2009, and compares the local policy responses in three Chinese provinces, Guangdong, Shanghai and Xinjiang. This paper adopts a case-study approach. The analysis of this paper focuses on the policy changes at the national level, including the move away from the tendering policy to a fixed-price policy in 2009, and the diversity of local policy responses that ranged from the introduction of a local fixed-price policy in Guangdong to the local implementation of the tendering model in Shanghai and the introduction of a de facto fixed-price policy in Xinjiang. Our findings suggest that technical and conceptual forms of policy learning have taken place in China in relation to the policies for wind energy, but the progression towards a high-order of policy learning, social learning, was severely constrained under the established fabric of central-local relations. This paper shows that policy learning improved policy coherence. Another benefit of policy learning is a better understanding of the unintended policy outcomes and the underlying incentive structures among policy stakeholders. The progression of policy learning was achieved through a number of enablers, including knowledge creation, institutions for knowledge accumulation and information disclosure, and the emergence of an issue network. However, overcentralisation, the inertia against institutional changes and the failure to recognize the need for a more deliberative decision-making process, which all emerge from the current central-local tensions in China's governance system, were identified as the key barriers to the policy learning process.
Keywords : sciences sociales
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Submitted on : Monday, December 22, 2014 - 1:13:21 PM
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Daphne Ngar-Yin Mah, Peter Hills. Policy choices, central-local relations and policy learning : a case study of the pricing policies for wind energy in China (from 1994 to 2009). 2010. ⟨hal-01069421⟩



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