skip to content


Energy-Intensity Changes and Environmental Issues in China
Professor Karen R. Polenske

This is a long-term, multidisciplinary regional research project partially funded by the Alliance for Global Sustainability, U.S. National Science Foundation, Chinese National Natural Science Foundation, Center for International Studies, and the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.  The multiregional planning team conducted an extensive national and regional analysis of factors contributing to the very rapid, over 65%, decrease in energy intensity (energy consumption per unit of output) in the People’s Republic of China (China) since the late 1970s.  The team of 15 professors and students has published a book, edited by Professor Karen R. Polenske, entitled The Technology-Energy-Environmental-Health (TEEH) chain in China: a Case Study of Cokemaking.  They provide details on alternative technologies available for the cokemaking sector in Shanxi Province up through 2004.  To obtain the information, they conducted surveys of cokemaking plant managers in township and village enterprises (TVEs) and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and of local officials in the relevant towns and villages.  They found that the so-called machinery technologies used by most of the SOEs are more energy efficient and less polluting but less profitable than the technologies used by the TVEs. They also conducted environmental monitoring at the plants and developed geographic information system (GIS) models of the coal and coke flows in the Province. In 2006, Springer (Dordrecht) published an English version of the book, and Higher Education Press (Beijing) published a Chinese version.   

Currently, new members of the team are studying the regional and plant trends in energy intensity in China and the possible effects from the use of renewable energy technologies. 

(DUSP faculty and principal investigator: Karen R. Polenske; other faculty are chemical engineers, economists, physicists, and systems analysts, from the Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT; the University of Tokyo; Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology; Institute of Systems Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Taiyuan University of Technology, Taiyuan, China, and Northeastern University, Shenyang, China)