The Chan Lab is the research group housed at the University of Minnesota's Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy dedicated to academic research and policy engagement on energy, climate, and innovation policy. The Chan Lab takes on projects at the local, national, and international levels that align with the Lab's mission to apply the most relevant research methodologies to real-world public issues, simultaneously advancing knowledge and practice. Across the Lab's work, issues of social justice and equity frame the questions we ask and the projects we take on.
Deploying solar energy is seen as a key strategy to reduce the environmental impacts of energy use, but deploying solar energy in traditional rooftop applications has been found to disproportionately benefit the wealthy. A promising model to more equitably deploy solar is community shared solar (CSS), now adopted through legislation in over 15 states and adopted voluntarily in an increasing number of utilities. We're studying how these programs create value for participants and can better serve low-income communities.
While innovation is widely seen an essential tool to meeting the global challenge of sustainable development, our understanding of how innovation systems work and can be strengthened remains poorly understood. Our work in this area seeks to better characterize the dynamics of innovation systems, such as the role of "innovation spillovers," breakthroughs carried from one sector to advance progress in another. We're studying how innovation in key energy technologies (PV, batteries, and LEDs) were spurred by spillovers in other domains.
Municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives provide over one-quarter of the electricity in the U.S. but relatively little academic research has been dedicated to understanding how these organizations work. With the emergence of distributed energy technologies, like rooftop solar and home batteries, these utilities are confronting new opportunities and challenges. We're studying how these utilities are implementing new practice innovations that reflect their unique identity as locally independent, customer-responsive utilities with critical institutional relationships with electricity generation utilities.
Clean energy deployment is growing exponentially thanks to declining costs and a growing number of policy incentives. However, a large fraction of the population is generally excluded from the benefits of more affordable and less polluting energy. Low-income communities in particular have seen disproportionately lower levels of clean energy deployment, raising issues of economic and environmental justice and potentially challenging the political viability of clean energy policies. We're looking globally at the challenges of clean energy access and we’re partnering with NGOs to understand best practices for broadening access to solar energy in different communities across the United States.
California is a national leader in adopting policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Its cap-and-trade program creates a binding cap on the majority of the state's emissions. California's climate policies promise to also improve air quality in the state, but it remains unclear which areas of the state stand to see the greatest local environmental and health benefits. We're working to better understand how the implementation of California's climate policies will create benefits for local communities across the state.
Among issues formally linked to adaptation funding, gender has received increased attention from multilateral climate funds, reflecting the growing recognition of gender equality’s importance as one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. We're studying the linkage of gender with climate adaptation to build dialogue is needed between practitioners, scholars, international bodies, and other stakeholders to learn from past experience and identify best practices for incorporating gender considerations into climate adaptation decision-making processes.
Climate change is a defining public issue of the 21st century with the potential to cause significant economic damage globally and to exacerbate inequality within and across countries. Climate change frames all the work we do, but we're also undertaking research to systematically understand international responses to climate change and the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Members of the Lab regularly attend the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties meetings.
China has the largest portfolio of wind energy projects in the world -- by a factor of two. The initial growth of the Chinese wind sector relied heavily on international support, such as finance through the UN Clean Development Mechanism. We've looked at how the Chinese wind sector is performing relative to international benchmarks. And now we're studying the role that international support played in the Chinese wind sector to learn lessons for international carbon markets.