We focus on the effects of international policy on low-carbon investment decisions in the private sector. Carbon markets, corporate investment, and energy technology innovation are key elements of this inquiry.

Photo: Usina Santa Elisa, São Paulo State, Brazil.


Current and recent projects:

CDM and low-carbon investment in Brazil and India

Policy for low-carbon technology: PV & Wind in India, Brazil, S Korea, & S Africa

Large-scale energy transitions: Bioenergy & Nuclear in Sweden, Brazil, & the US

Energy, Development, and Green Growth

Energy Technology: Greenhouse Gas Impact of Shale Gas

Energy Technology: Costs of Nuclear Power

International Climate Policy and UN Climate Conferences

(L) Bagasse to be used for cogeneration at a sugar mill in Brazil. (R) Usina Nardini, Sao Paulo State, Brazil, with Simone Pulver.

CDM and low-carbon investment decisions in Brazil and India

Collaborative research with Prof. Simone Pulver, Univ of California, Santa Barbara

This research investigates the reasons that firms chose to undertake (or not) CDM projects that would generate carbon income. Current research focuses on the sugar and cement industries in each country. Research method involves field data collection and interviews of firm managers and carbon market partipants. Future research possibilities include expanding sectoral scope (e.g. steel, fertilizer) or country coverage (e.g. South Africa, Indonesia, Turkey, South Korea, China). This work is funded by NSF (Decision, Risk, & Management Sci / Sociology / Geog & Regional Sci / Innovation & Org. Sci). Research team: Ryna Cui (University of Maryland, PhD), Leticia Guimaraes (Univ Maryland, alum, MPP '10), Viviane Romeiro (Univ Sao Paulo, PhD), Tabitha Benney (UCSB, PhD), Ranjit Deshmukh (Prayas Energy Group, India)

Brazil partner: Prof Sergio Pacca, Univ of Sao Paulo

Brazil partner organizations: Institute for Advanced Studies & Electrotechinal Institute, Univ of Sao Paulo

India partner organization: Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi


Hultman, N.E., S. Pulver, S. Pacca, S. Saran, L. Powell, V. Romeiro, T. Benney (2011). “Carbon Markets and Low-carbon Investment in Emerging Economies: Experiences with CDM in Brazil and India” Energy Policy, 39: 6698–6700.

Hultman, N.E., S. Pulver, R. Deshmukh, L. Guimaraes, and J. Kane “Carbon market risks and rewards: Firm perceptions of CDM investment decisions in Brazil and India.” In Press, Energy Policy. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.06.063.

Pulver, S., N.E. Hultman, and L. Guimaraes. “The CDM, carbon markets, and environmental entrepreneurship in Brazil’s sugar sector.” (2010). Climate and Development 2: 248–262.

Hultman, N.E., Emily Boyd, J. Timmons Roberts, John Cole, Esteve Corbera, Johannes Ebeling, Katrina Brown, and Diana M. Liverman (2009), “How can the Clean Development Mechanism better contribute to sustainable development?” Ambio 38(2):120-122.

Boyd, E., N.E. Hultman, J.T. Roberts, E. Corbera, J. Cole, A. Bozmoski, J. Ebeling, R. Tippman, K. Brown, D.M. Liverman (2009). “Reforming the Clean Development Mechanism for Sustainable Development: Lessons learned and future prospects.” Environmental Science & Policy 12(3): 820-831. 

Policy for low-carbon technology investment: A comparative international perspective on emerging economy responses to climate change

This new research program for 2011-2016 and is funded by an NSF CAREER grant (Science & Technology Studies).

Climate policy is likely moving toward a regime of parallel domestic policies that are coordinated and reported internationally. Because of the complexity of this new interaction, understanding investment decisions in response to both domestic and international policies will be a key to establishing a successful and sufficiently ambitious long-term international approach to transitioning to a low-carbon economy. This research and teaching agenda will probe the motivations for emerging economy firms to invest and innovate in low-carbon technology. The central research question of this proposal is: How do firms in emerging economies respond to international and domestic energy policies when making low-carbon investment decisions? The research will evaluate the differences in deployment and international policy participation in solar photovoltaic and wind electricity generation in India, Brazil, South Africa, and South Korea. Through field research and interviews, the investigators will assess the major policy influences for low-carbon investment decisions in these countries and technologies. This work will contribute to scholarship on firm decisionmaking in response to energy policies. It can also potentially inform the approach of national and international low-carbon technology policy. Through courses and research experience, this proposal encourages students to link technology outcomes with policy drivers; to develop an informed, comparative international perspective on technology investments; and to engage with this important policy discourse in the US and internationally. 

Prospective PhD students with an interest in this area are encouraged to contact me.

Low-carbon Energy Technology Transitions

This research investigates large-scale, decadal transitions to bioenergy and nuclear power in Sweden, Brazil, and the United States, through expert interviews and surveys. The goal is to establish the factors seen by participants as the most important for energy transitions. This work is funded by NSF (Innovation & Organizational Sciences) Research team: Liz Malone, Paul Runci, Leon Clarke, Kate Anderson at the Joint Global Change Research Institute (PNNL); Greg Carlock (MPP/MS, University of Maryland); Jenny Kane (alum, MPP '10)


Hultman, N.E., E.L. Malone, E.L., P. Runci, G. Carlock, K. Anderson. “Factors in low-carbon energy transformations: Comparing nuclear and bioenergy in Brazil, Sweden, and the U.S.” In Press, Energy Policy

Energy, Development, and Green Growth

In addition to the cases described above, members with our research collaborators have done a number of case investigations of policy effects on low-carbon investment:

Policy for Green Growth

Hultman, N., K. Sierra, G. Carlock (2011). "Energy and Green Growth: Recasting the Options, Re-envisioning Sustainability” The Brookings Institution for Club of Madrid, Washington D.C., Aug, 9 pp [link]

South Africa

CDM and the fertilizer and steel industries. With Alex Bozmoski. Paper in review.


1. Participant perspectives on CDM in carbon forestry projects. With Alex Bozmoski (Oxford): Bozmoski, A. and N.E. Hultman (2010). “Carbon-forestry in Rural Tanzania: Local & Institutional Perceptions of Risk & Benefit in Pursuit of CDM Approval.” Journal of Environment and Development 19: 4-27.

2. Tanzania's Biofuels Policy: Comparative Analysis. With Emmanuel Sulle, Chris Ramig, Seth Sykora-Bodie (Univ of Maryland). Paper in revision.

Persian Gulf Countries

1. Low-carbon energy technology transitions in the Persian Gulf countries (Bahrain, Qatar, UAE). With Dylan Rebois (University of Maryland). Paper in Prep

2. Doha Carbon and Energy Forum. With Dylan Rebois (Univ of Maryland) and colleagues at Brookings (Energy Security Initiative). Brookings Report: Ebinger, Hultman, Massy, Avasarala, Rebois, "Options for Low-Carbon Develeopment in Countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council" [link]

3. US Department of State, "East-West Cultural Dialogue" Lecture series delivered in Bahrain, May 2010.

Energy Technology: Greenhouse gas impact of shale gas

1.  Hultman, N.E., D. Rebois, M. Scholten, C. Ramig (2011). “The greenhouse gas footprint of unconventional gas for electricity generation”  Environmental Research Letters. [link]


Energy Technology: Nuclear Power costs and policy

1. Understanding cost risks in nuclear power (with Jon Koomey)

Hultman, N.E. and J.G. Koomey (2007). “The risk of surprise in energy technology costs.” Env. Research Letters 2 (034002): 1-6. 

Koomey, J.G. and N.E. Hultman (2007). “A Reactor-level analysis of busbar costs for U.S. nuclear plants, 1970-2005.”  Energy Policy 35(11): 5630-5642. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2007.06.005. 

Hultman, N.E., J.G. Koomey, and D.M. Kammen (2007). “What history can teach us about the future costs of nuclear power.” Env. Science & Technology, 41(7): 2088–2093.

2. Review paper: 

Hultman, N.E. “The Political Economy of Nuclear Power.” Climate Change 2(3) 397-411. DOI 10.1002/wcc.113

3. Series of commentaries for Brookings on nuclear costs and post-Fukushima policy:

4. Koomey & Hultman "Was three mile island the cause of US Nuclear Powe's woes?": Original Post; Repost on Climate Progress


International Climate Policy / UN Climate Conferences

1. Climate Risk. Hultman, N.E., Hassenzahl, D.M., and Rayner, S. “Climate Risk” (2010) Annual Reviews of Environment and Resources, 35: 283-303.

2. Series of commentaries on UN Climate Conferences and other aspects of international climate policy . Available at Brookings Institution website: