Dr Jing Shao is a lecturer in Economics at Swansea University’s School of Social Sciences. She specialises in Labour and Health Economics specifically empirical microeconomics and applied econometrics, with a special focus upon energy economics, health economics and labour economics.

What is your field of research?

My research interest lies within the areas of empirical microeconomics and applied econometrics, with a special focus upon energy economics, health economics and labour economics.

In particular, I am interested in evaluating the effectiveness of policy in areas such as female labour force participation and female work activities, or the effectiveness of policy implementations in health and energy markets.

Dr Jing Shao

More recently, my research has focussed upon renewable policies in the energy market, and I have been investigating those factors which affect electricity prices and the impact of renewable policies upon market efficiency.

How did you become interested in the field?

I have always wanted to work on real world problems with real implications for society. The transition from fossil fuels to renewables is just such an example of this and is crucial in helping to achieve a low-carbon economy, although this path is not straightforward as renewable technologies are more expensive, and some of them are immature.  Therefore, government policies are important to guide market behaviour and change investment preferences.

However, the policy changes make investors feel unsure and question the efficiency of the policy. For example, subsidies towards household solar panels installation have largely encouraged investment due to high return while the subsidies dropped substantially after its first implementation, causing consumers’ concern towards adoption of the new technology. As an economist, my expertise in economic analysis can provide insights into interpreting such energy policies. 

How did you come to work at Swansea University?

I joined Swansea University in 2016 as a research assistant in Swansea Centre for Health Economics, which allowed me to hone my research skills and gave me invaluable research experience. Subsequently, I joined department of economics as a lecturer as I also wanted to develop my teaching skills, and to interact with students on a more regular basis. I have met many amazing people at Swansea University and I have enjoyed my time here very much.

What do you hope to achieve with your research?

I hope my research can help more people understand how energy policies influence their daily life and how renewable energies can make society better. I also hope that, as I continue to extend my portfolio of research projects, I can act as a bridge linking energy industry and public sectors. Creating impact and making a contribution towards sound and robust policymaking to improve efficiency in the energy market would be a key goal.

What practical applications could your research have?

The triangle targets of energy policy are decarbonisation, affordability, and energy security, but it is extremely difficult to achieve these three goals at the same time. For example, the rising natural gas prices in the last two years show that the UK does not have an adequate reserve to protect its citizens from volatile international prices, even though the UK has achieved great success in decarbonisation. My research in carbon market and electricity retail prices suggests that priorities should be reconsidered periodically, so eventually social welfare can be maximised.

What is next for your research?

I will continue my research in energy economics, and in particular the energy affordability. Indeed, I have just completed an analysis on a recent government support scheme towards renewables, Contract for Differences, in the electricity sector.

Rising energy prices over the last two years have placed many households into a perilous financial position, and I would like to investigate the possible policy solutions that can help more people benefit from using clean and affordable energies. Wind power, which has seen a successful reduction in generation costs over the past twenty years, is seen as a key component in solving this puzzle.

Find out more about Dr Jing Shao