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Technology transfer in the hydropower industry: An analysis of Chinese dam developers’ undertakings in Europe and Latin America


  • Kirchherr, Julian
  • Matthews, Nathanial


Technology transfer is essential for transitioning to a low carbon economy which can include hydropower. Chinese dam developers allegedly dominate the global hydropower industry. Studies have been carried out on technology transfer in their undertakings in Africa and Asia. However, such work is lacking for Europe and Latin America. The aim of this paper is to identify the extent, drivers and inhibitors of technology transfer of Chinese dam developers’ undertakings in Europe and Latin America. We find relatively few Chinese undertakings and thus limited evidence for technology transfer both in Europe and Latin America. Transfers identified are frequently mutual with the Chinese player transferring technology to the host country and vice versa. This transfer is driven by business considerations in Europe (costs, capacities) and Latin America (costs, lacking access to finance), but also geopolitical ones (Europe: creation of a trading area; Latin America: access to (natural) resources). It is impeded by Chinese dam developers’ poor reputation regarding safeguards as well as (only in Latin America) protectionist policies and significant capacities of host country players. Our research provides transparency regarding the European and Latin American hydropower industry, while also highlighting that attempts to influence what kind of technology is transferred by Chinese dam developers may be worthwhile.

Suggested Citation

  • Kirchherr, Julian & Matthews, Nathanial, 2018. "Technology transfer in the hydropower industry: An analysis of Chinese dam developers’ undertakings in Europe and Latin America," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 546-558.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:113:y:2018:i:c:p:546-558
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2017.11.043

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    References listed on IDEAS

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