Energy, Sustainability and
Resource Management

Thirty years ago, the United Nations’ Bruntland Commission defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. This tension between present and future, in a region that experiences rapid economic growth, is central to the research activities of the Energy, Sustainability and Resource Management cluster. The research cluster’s questions relate to the sustainable use of natural resources, and are associated with considerations of governance, policy, public participation, socio-economic conditions and cultural levers. The research cluster has a regional focus on China and other East and Southeast Asian countries.

smart low carbon cities

Research Grants Council’s Research Impact Grant (Project coordinator: Dr. Daphne Mah) Exploring the role of big data analytics in promoting smart low-carbon cities: A human centered, community-based, and deep engagement approach in Hong Kong

Drawing on expertise from three departments (Geography, Computer Science and Physics) across the Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Science, and Academy of Visual Arts, the team will test how energy behavioural change of 600 sampled households in four communities in Hong Kong can be catalysed by the combined use of app-based big data analytics and innovative engagement strategies. The study aims to develop and test a model of “Smart Low-carbon Community” for enabling behavioural change among residential electricity consumers.


The project, titled “Exploring the role of big data analytics in promoting smart low-carbon cities: A human-centered, community-based, and deep engagement approach in Hong Kong”, will be delivered by an interdisciplinary research consortium involving 17 co-investigators/collaborators in nine renowned research institutions in Hong Kong and overseas research institutions including Stanford, Kyoto University, and Seoul National University. Nine collaborating organisations from the business, school and societal sectors are also engaging with the project. Based on a long-standing research network hosted by HKBU’s Asian Energy Studies Centre, this interdisciplinary project will combine expertise in data science, climatology, energy modelling, blockchain, GIS, energy resource assessment, energy policies, participatory art and deliberative polling to address a complex problem using a systemic approach. 


GRF Project (PI: Dr Kevin Lo) Decentralized climate governance and policy implementation in China: Unraveling a paradox

A multi-case and multi-site comparative climate governance study aiming to identify and explain patterns of climate policy implementation in China.


Although China is an authoritarian and unitary state, its governance system has become increasingly decentralized. This project involves the development of new conceptual tools and the rigorous collection of data through a comparative approach to study climate policy implementation in China. The main contribution of the project is to improve our understanding of China’s climate governance. Based on this knowledge, we can make sound practical recommendations to improve China’s climate mitigation performance from a policy and governance perspective.


Digital Scholarship Grant (PI: Dr Kevin Lo) HK Solar Map: A GIS web application for rooftop photovoltaics

The Hong Kong Solar Map is a web-based GIS application that Hong Kong residents can use to learn about the potential for solar PVs on their buildings and across the city.


The Hong Kong Solar Map is a web-based GIS application that Hong Kong residents can use to learn about the potential for solar PVs on their buildings and across the city. The main feature is a solar calculator, which takes usable area as an input and generates the following outputs: potential PV capacity, annual electricity generation, annual electricity bill savings, total cost of the system, payback period, and carbon emissions reduction. Furthermore, the calculator can also estimate the impact of net metering and feed-in tariffs on payback periods.



smart grid development

Mah, D. N.-Y., 2020. Conceptualising government-market dynamics in socio-technical energy transitions: A comparative case study of smart grid developments in China and Japan

Smart grids (SGs) have been increasingly regarded as an enabling technology for post-Fukushima energy transitions. SGs require new policies and market infrastructures to deliver their potential, but the roles of governments in increasingly market based energy systems have not been well conceptualised. Advancing the socio-technical energy transitions literature, this paper proposes five functions of government-market dynamics in an integrated framework, and applies the framework in the field of smart grid developments in two Asian countries, China and Japan. Based on interviews with 38 key stakeholders, this study has three main findings. First, both countries have in common that the five functions of government-market dynamics are critical in developing, diffusing and utilising SG technologies. Second, China and Japan exhibit distinctive characteristics in the ways that government actors engage market actors. While the Chinese approach is more hierarchical, fragmented and homogenous led by two monopolised grid companies, the Japanese approach is a relatively systemic, bottom-up, and heterogeneous system mainly operated through four large-scale SG demonstration projects. Third, national contextual differences, most notably the advancement of electricity market reforms, explain the variety of the dynamics and outcomes. This paper concludes that consideration of optimising government-market dynamics is vital to create conductive conditions for realising the potential that SGs can offer in energy transitions.

energy consumption in china

Lo, K., 2020. Governing energy consumption in China: a comprehensive assessment of the energy conservation target responsibility system. Energy Transitions, 4, 57–67

The governance of energy consumption in China is of environmental significance from the standpoints of preventing local air pollution and global climate change. At the heart of China’s energy governance system is the energy conservation target responsibility system (ECTRS). This article examines this important governance instrument from three key aspects. First, it explains the role of the ECTRS in China’s authoritarian yet decentralized governance system. Second, it traces the development of the ECTRS over the last decade, with a specific focus on the reforms introduced in the 13th 5-Year Plan (2016–2020), particularly the energy caps. Third, it analyzes the limitations of the ECTRS and provides a policy outlook in the context of growing domestic and international interests in energy conservation.