Dahrendorf Workshop: Chinese Investments in Europe’s Energy Sector

On 6 and 7 November 2015, experts from ten countries presented their research on Chinese investments in Europe’s energy sectors during a two-days workshop at the Hertie School of Governance. They discussed the topic from policy-, sector- and country- specific angles and received substantial feedback on their research from two reviewers each. Papers presented have gone through a competitive pre-selection process and are aimed to be published in a special issue edited by the Working Group on Europe-China Relations.

Session 1: Overall Context and Policy Frameworks

Yunheng Zhou (Zhejiang University) and Weiqing Song (University of Macau) critically assessed that energy insecurity and environmental degradation are common problems Europe and China are facing; however, economic protectionism, politicisation of climate issues, and enterprises’ dilemmas with technological transfer impede deeper integration.
Drawing on interviews conducted between 2010 – 2015, Olivia Gippner (London School of Economics and Political Science) and Diarmuid Torney (Dublin City University) suggested that changing frames towards energy sustainability in China explain increasing Chinese investments towards Europe’s renewable energy sector.

Session 2: Strategies and Motives

Rosa Maria Fernandez (University of Chester) and Maria Garcia (University of Bath) examined motivations and drivers behind Chinese energy investments analysing regulatory changes and policy-frameworks. Stephan Liedtke (University of Cologne) concentrated on Chinese government policies and political instruments.

Session 3: Sector Case Studies

Moreover, papers offered in-depth sector-specific case studies. Based on quantitative analyses of wind and solar power sectors, Louise Curran (Toulouse Business School), Ping Lv (University of Chinese Academy of Science) and Francesca Spigarelli (University of Macerata) identified a strong polarisation between Chinese home provinces and European host countries targeting either wind or solar energy. Explaining limited Chinese investments in Europe’s oil and gas sectors, Tao Wang (Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy) and David Livingston (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) unveiled resource endowments and regulatory hurdles, the lack of institutions, and the EU’s security concerns as the main impediments for Chinese oil and gas companies.

Session 4: Country Case Studies

Other contributions offered country-specific case studies. Katiuscia Vaccarini (Jacobs University Bremen/ University of Macerata), Christoph Lattemann (Jacobs University Bremen), Francesca Spigarelli and Ernesto Tavoletti (both University of Macerata) illustrated shifting psychic distance perceptions of Chinese managers before and after entering Germany’s green technology market, based on questionnaires distributed and analysed in Summer 2015.
Pablo Pareja-Alcaraz (Universitat Pompeu Fabra) argued that China has been able to build its own space through energy investments in Greece, Portugal and Spain. Richard Turcsányi (Masaryk University) compared Chinese energy investments in Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia with investments in Western Europe, based on interviews with representatives of companies and state officials unpacking country specific differing perceptions related to Chinese energy investments.

Session 5: The Role of State-Owned Enterprises

Moving beyond case studies, the papers also assessed the importance of Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF) and the role of Chinese State-owned enterprises (SOEs). Tomasz Kaminski (University of Lodz) compiled thirty SWF transactions related to energy and natural resources in the EU between 2007 and 2014, his findings emphasise that SWFs inherit a potential to harm European interests. At a later stage, Jie Yu will show SOEs play a significant role in Chinese outbound foreign direct investments.

Workshop Chairs:

Björn Conrad, Co-Chair Dahrendorf Working Group “Europe-China Relations”, Associate Vice President for Research, Mercator Institute for China Studies, (MERICS), Berlin

Genia Kostka, Co-Chair Dahrendorf Working Group “Europe-China Relations”, Professor of Governance of Energy and Infrastructure, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin

Workshop Organisation:

Wiebke Rabe, Research Associate Dahrendorf Working Group “Europe-China Relations”, PhD Candidate, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin

The opinions expressed in this blog contribution are entirely those of the author and do not represent the positions of the Dahrendorf Forum or its hosts Hertie School and London School of Economics or its funder Stiftung Mercator.