The Davidson Lab focuses on the engineering implications and institutional conflicts inherent in deploying low-carbon energy at scale. We have particular interests in understanding the political systems of Asia (with a focus on China and India) as well as the western U.S. Our research topics include renewable resource assessments, power system operations, and political economy of markets:

Research topics


We are recruiting PhD and MS students to join the lab: Please see the academic programs and mentoring opportunities page for more information.


Prof. Davidson is an assistant professor in the School of Global Policy and Strategy and the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of California, San Diego. He is a faculty member with the 21st Century China Center the Center for Commerce and Diplomacy, and the Japan Forum for Innovation and Technology, all located at UC San Diego. He is currently a fellow with the Public Intellectuals Program at the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. He is also a fellow with the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Read more here.



News

Quantifying the cost savings of global solar photovoltaic supply chains

Helveston, J.P., He, G., & Davidson, M.R. Nature.

Achieving carbon neutrality requires deploying renewable energy at unprecedented speed and scale, yet countries sometimes implement policies that increase costs by restricting the free flow of capital, talent and innovation in favour of localizing benefits such as economic growth, employment and trade surpluses. Here we assess the cost savings from... [Read More]

Risks of decoupling from China on low-carbon technologies

Davidson, M. R., Karplus, V. J., Lewis, J. I., Nahm, J., & Wang, A. Science.

China plays, and will likely continue to play, an indispensable role in research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) and manufacturing of low-carbon technologies that are necessary to address climate change. For example, China’s scale-up capabilities that are underpinned by manufacturing process improvements, supply chain optimization, and deep government support have contributed... [Read More]

Geodata v0.1 package launched

Open-source python package that helps to wrangle high-dimensional weather model data and diverse geospatial datasets to address questions of renewable energy planning and siting (and more)

Geodata is a Python library of geospatial data collection and “pre-analysis” tools. Geospatial and gridded datasets of physical variables are ubiquitous and increasingly high resolution. Long time-series gridded datasets can be generated as part of earth system models, and due to their geographic coverage they can have wider applications, including... [Read More]

Static Electricity: Institutional and Ideational Barriers to China’s Market Reforms

Davidson, M. R., Pearson, M. M. Studies in Comparative International Development.

China’s “economic juggernaut” is often noted to have arisen from successful market reforms carried out in the context of high state capacity. In contrast, we demonstrate that crucial reforms to replace central planning with markets have stalled as a result of major barriers of two types: institutional and ideational. Focusing... [Read More]

The Challenges of Coal Phaseout: Coal Plant Development and Foreign Finance in Indonesia and Vietnam

Gao, X., Davidson, M., Busby, J., Shearer, C., Eisenman, J. Global Environmental Politics.

Global coal use must be phased out if we are to minimize temperature increases associated with climate change. Most new coal plants are being built in the Asia Pacific and rely on overseas finance, with Indonesia and Vietnam the leading recipients. However, the politics of coal plant finance are changing,... [Read More]