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CGS receives NSF grant to examine implications on innovation when wind manufacturing moves overseas

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Movement of high-technology manufacturing industries from the United States and Europe to emerging and developing economies have widely dominated headlines over the past several years. These manufacturing shifts raise important policy, economic, and research questions that have yet to be answered. The Center for Global Sustainability (CGS) at the University of Maryland received grant funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in August 2018 to begin research on the drivers of and impacts on technological innovation from manufacturing relocation.

With a focus on the global wind technology industry, which has seen major shifts to emerging economies in both manufacturing and deployment, this project will help our understanding of why firms alter or refocus their geographic strategies and physical locations and whether this shift changes the nature and direction of innovation. The project will put an emphasis on small or medium businesses that manufacture various components for wind turbines and are thus a critical component in the supply chain for the wind industry.

Kavita Surana, a Senior Research Associate at CGS, is the Principal Investigator on the project. She notes, “Ensuring competitiveness of clean energy industries in different local contexts is essential for technological innovation and the industry development needed to meet climate mitigation goals. Our research will seek to determine the trade-offs associated with manufacturing shifts, which can ultimately be used to inform the design of policies that spur local manufacturing, economic competitiveness, and technology development in globally distributed clean energy industries.”

Nathan Hultman, CGS Director and SPP Associate Professor, is the Co-Principal Investigator for the NSF project. Hultman comments on the implications for reaching the world’s Paris goals, “We know that wind energy is going to be an essential element of reaching global climate goals, but equally important is learning the lessons from innovation within this technology that can help illuminate pathways to better policy and investment strategies for this and other low-carbon technologies in the future.”

The project is a joint effort with the University of Cambridge, UK where Prof. Laura Diaz Anadon was awarded a parallel grant by Research Councils UK to conduct the research. Prof. Claudia Doblinger from the Technical University of Munich, Germany (TU Munich) is also a key collaborator.

This research effort will run from September 2018 until August 2020. For more information see the award announcement on the NSF website.

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