- Assistant Professor, Environmental and Energy Policy
- PhD, Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology
- B.S., Environmental Sciences, Beijing Normal University
My research focuses on the intersection of public policy, social equity, and sustainability. I study how public policy can be leveraged to improve environmental quality, to promote the use of clean technologies, and to enhance social equity. My investigation of these topics integrates clean energy technology deployment data with policy textual data, environmental quality observations, and demographic information using quantitative methods, comparative case studies, qualitative content analysis, and geospatial analysis tools.
My research has been generously supported by both internal and external sponsors (e.g., NOAA, NASA and Oak Ridge Associated Universities). I have published my work in top-tier policy and sustainability-related journals, such as Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Energy Policy, Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, Social Science Quarterly, Journal of Asian Public Policy, Journal of Cleaner Production, and Review of Policy Research. I have served on the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) Conference Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources Policy Abstract Review Committee since 2019, and on the journal editorial board of Review of Policy Research and Energy Sources, Part B: Economics, Planning, and Policy since 2021.
Environmental and Energy Policy Analysis
As an environmental and energy policy scholar, I engage in research supporting evidence-based policy making for sustainable development. I have published several peer-reviewed articles using econometric models to quantitatively evaluate policy impact on clean energy technology deployment. In particular, I focus on how state and federal policies interact to influence smart meter adoption (Zhou & Matisoff, 2016), how policy design (i.e., policy stringency & compulsoriness of targets) of state renewable portfolio standards influences renewable energy capacity additions (Zhou & Solomon, 2020; Solomon & Zhou, 2021), and how voluntary green power market performs in conjunction with mandatory renewable portfolio standards (Zhou & Solomon, 2021).
I have been nationally recognized for the quality and promise of my research in this area. In 2020, I received the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, a highly competitive award from the Oak Ridge Associated Universities. This award provided funds to examine the interrelation between voluntary environmental programs and government-led mandates (PI, $10,000: Incorporating LEED into local green building policies: the blurred boundary between voluntarism and regulation; Discipline: Policy, Management or Education).
Environmental and Energy Justice
Environmental Justice. I have published several papers investigating social equity in the distribution of environmental amenities, such as students and communities’ access to LEED certified schools (Zhao, Zhou & Noonan, 2020), and the implication of China’s household registration system (Hukou) and the resulted negative social construction of rural migrants on Chinese municipal governments’ provision of urban environmental amenities (green space and pollution treatment facilities) (Zhou & Liang, 2021). My expertise in environmental justice inspired my participation as Co-Investigator and the social science lead in a three-year NASA funded project (Co-I, $449,378: Mapping and Modeling Desertification and Its Impact on Anthropogenic Dust and Health-related External Costs in Central Asia), in which my responsibility is to assess the social inequalities in human exposure to air pollution and the resulted health outcomes in central Asia.
Energy Justice. My early research endeavors focusing on environmental justice inspired me to investigate social inequalities arising in the clean energy transition process. I have published research articles examining the access to smart metering infrastructure and smart grid subsidies by different social groups (Zhou & Noonan, 2019), and the temporal trend and magnitude of residential solar PV adoption disparities in the U.S. (Gao & Zhou, 2022). My research in this area has been funded by the Michigan Tech Research Excellence Fund (PI, $15,000: Examining the Inequalities of US Energy Policy Outcomes: The Spatial Distribution of Clean Energy Infrastructure and Environmental Benefits), and NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) Program (PI, $146,920: Design Innovative Policy Instruments to Promote Equitable and Effective Low-carbon Energy Infrastructure Investment in Rural Communities across the U.S.).
Public Policy Theories
Policy adoption and diffusion. I study mechanisms of government adoption of policies promoting clean energy and sustainable development. One publication in which I am lead author examines four driving forces of renewable energy policy adoptions by European countries, including coercion, normative emulation, competition and learning (Zhou, Matisoff, Brown & Kingsley, 2019). I am currently working with a PhD advisee on a manuscript examining factors that influence the use of municipal green bonds by local governments in California. This work has been accepted for the 2022 Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) fall conference.
Policy design. My other emerging area of research centers the design of environmental and energy policies. I am interested in more accurate operationalization of policy design features in policy analysis, and the establishment of causal linkages between nuanced policy design features and distributional policy outcomes.
My research team has constructed a comprehensive national dataset of U.S. solar justice policies, which refer to policies and programs that promote the adoption of solar PV by broader segments of population. Leveraging this unique solar justice policy dataset and policy design literature, I conducted a comparative policy analysis using content analysis to understand the manifestation and operationalization of energy justice in three policy design elements, including macro policy goals, meso policy instruments, and micro-calibrations. This paper was presented in the 2021 APPAM fall conference, and is currently under review. Another paper published in Energy Policy combines this national solar justice policy dataset with the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) Tracking the Sun data to examine the impact of solar justice policies on residential solar PV adoption inequalities in the U.S. (Gao & Zhou, 2022).
Environmental and Energy Policy
Links of interest
- Environmental & Energy Policy
- Smart Grids, Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency & Green Buildings
- Sustainable Technology Adoption & Diffusion
- Environmental and Energy Justice
- Urban and Local Sustainability
- Policy Processes
- Policy Analysis
* indicates a graduate student co-author
Zhong, H., Zhou, S., Zhao, Z., Zhang, H., Nie, J. & Simayi, P. (Forthcoming). An Empirical Study on the
Types of Consumers and Their Preferences for E-Waste Recycling with a Points System.
Cleaner and Responsible Consumption.
Gao, X., & Zhou, S. (2022). Solar adoption inequality in the U.S.: Trend, magnitude, and solar justice policies. Energy Policy, 169, 113163. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2022.113163
Lu, H.* and Zhou, S. (2022) Using policy goal ambiguity to manage policy goal conflicts: Sponge-City Program implementation in old neighbourhoods. Journal of Asian Public Policy, https://doi:10.1080/17516234.2022.2060061
Zhou, S.& Solomon, B. D. (2021). The interplay between renewable portfolio standards and voluntary green power markets in the United States. Renewable Energy, 178, 720-729. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2021.06.110
Zhou, S. & Liang, J. (2021) Migrant workers and environmental amenities and infrastructure
in urban China: from the lens of environmental justice, Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, DOI: 10.1080/1523908X.2021.1920379
Solomon, B.D. and Zhou, S. (2021), Renewable Portfolio Standards: Do Voluntary Goals vs. Mandatory Standards Make a Difference? Review of Policy Research, 38: 146-163. https://doi.org/10.1111/ropr.12424
Zhou, S. (2021). “The Effect of Smart Meter Penetration on Dynamic Pricing: Evidence from the United States”. The Electricity Journal, 34(3).https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tej.2021.106919
Lu, H.*, Mayer, A. L., Zhou, S., & Wellstead, A. (2021). Unveiling the Quasi-public-private partnership (QPPP): Evidence from China’s Environmental Service Sector. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, 1-15. doi:10.1080/1523908X.2021.1880315
Curley, C., Harrison, N.*, Kewei Xu, C., & Zhou, S. (2020). Collaboration Mitigates Barriers of Utility Ownership on Policy Adoption: Evidence from the United States. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1080/09640568.2020.1755241.
Zhou, S., & Solomon, B. D. (2020). Do Renewable Portfolio Standards in the United States Stunt Renewable Electricity Development beyond Mandatory Targets? Energy Policy, 140, 111377. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2020.111377.
Zhao, S., Zhou, S., & Noonan, D. S. (2019). Environmental Justice and Green Schools—Assessing Students and Communities’ Access to Green Schools. Social Science Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1111/ssqu.12715
Lu, H.*, Mayer, A. L., Wellstead, A. M., & Zhou, S.(2019). Can the dual identity of policy entrepreneur and policy implementer promote successful policy adoption? Vertical greening policymaking in Shanghai, China. Journal of Asian Public Policy, 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1080/17516234.2019.1631241
Zhou, S. and Noonan, D. (2019). “Justice Implications of Clean Energy Policies and Programs in the United States: A Theoretical and Empirical Exploration”. Sustainability, 11(3), 807. http://doi.org/10.3390/su11030807
Zhou, S., Matisoff, D., Kingsley, G., and Brown, M. (2019). “Understanding Renewable Energy Policy
Adoption and Evolution in Europe: The Impact of Coercion, Normative Emulation, Competition,
and Learning”. Energy Research & Social Science, 51, 1-11. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2018.12.011
Brown M., Zhou S. and Ahmadi M. (2018). “Smart Grid Governance: An International Review of Evolving Policy Issues and Innovations”. WIREs Energy Environ 7(5): e290.https://doi.org/10.1002/wene.290
Noonan, D., Zhou, S. and Kirkman, R. (2017). “Making Smart and Sustainable Infrastructure Projects Viable: Private Choices, Public Support, and System Constraints”. Urban Planning 2(3): 18-32. http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/up.v2i3.999
Zhou, S. and Brown, M. (2017). “Smart Meter Deployment in Europe: A Comparative Case Study
on the Impacts of National Policy Schemes”. Journal of Cleaner Production 144: 22-32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.12.031
Zhou, S. and Matisoff, D. C. (2016). “Advanced Metering Infrastructure Deployment in the United States: The Impact of Polycentric Governance and Contextual Changes”. Review of Policy Research 33(6): 646-665. https://doi.org/10.1111/ropr.12203
Brown, M. and Zhou, S. (2013). “Smart-grid Policies: An International Review”. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment 2(2): 121-139. https://doi.org/10.1002/wene.53
- “Design Innovative Policy Instruments to Promote Equitable and Effective Low-carbon Energy Infrastructure Investment in Rural Communities across the U.S.” (PI), NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) 2022, 09/2022-08/2024 – Funded ($146,920)
- “Incorporating LEED into local green building policies: the blurred boundary between voluntarism and regulation” (PI), the Ralph E. Power Junior Enhancement Award, Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), 10/2020 –10/2021 – Funded ($10,000)
- “Examining the Inequalities of US Energy Policy Outcomes: The Spatial Distribution of Clean Energy Infrastructure and Environmental Benefits” (PI), Michigan Tech Research Excellence Fund (REF) - Research Seed Grants (RS), 01/2020-12/2022 – Funded ($15,000)
- “Mapping and Modeling Desertification and Its Impact on Anthropogenic Dust and Health-related External Costs in Central Asia” (Co-PI), NASA Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) 2019, 05/2021-04/2023 – Funded ($449,378)
- “Integrating Justice Considerations in Energy Policy Design: Empirical Evidence from Solar Justice Policies in the U.S.” International Conference on Public Policy Design. Miami, FL. Feb 23-25, 2023. (Scheduled)
- “Who Are Leveraging Municipal Green Bond for Sustainable Development: Empirical Evidence from California and New York”. 2022 APPAM Fall Research Conference. In-person. Washington DC. Nov 17-19, 2022. (Presenting author: PhD advisee; Scheduled)
- “The Impact of Local Zoning Ordinance Design on Wind Development”. 2022 APPAM Fall Research Conference. In-person. Washington DC. Nov 17-19, 2022. (Scheduled)
- UN 1025: Global Issues
- SS 3630: Environmental Policy and Politics
- SS 3755: Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility
- SS 5300: Environmental Policy
- SS 5350: Environmental Policy Analysis
Dr. Shan Zhou is a recipient of the 2020 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from ORAU. Dr. Zhou's research interests include clean energy policy design and effectiveness, voluntary environmental programs, and environmental justice analysis.