Huiwen Gong

Affiliated member


Huiwen is an economic geographer with a special interest on the battery value chain configurations in China and Europe (Germany and Norway) against the intensified geopolitical tensions and global competitions. Her research delves into the processes and historical developments of battery value chains in these regions. Initially, Huiwen sought to understand the factors that have led to the dominance of the Chinese battery value chain on the global stage, as well as the strategies employed by European entities—both governmental and corporate—to establish a foothold in this burgeoning sector. However, over time, her focus has shifted towards a deeper exploration of the potential adverse effects and dark aspects of the global battery race, particularly in the host regions burdened with the industry's heavy lifting.


Huiwen's Marie-Curie project (2020-22) delved into the dynamics in Ningde, the headquarters of CATL, and Dongguan, where most retired batteries are processed by what are often considered 'illegal' family-run workshops. Her fieldwork in these areas sparked a deep interest in the impact of green transitions on individuals, families, and broader society. Growing up in Ningde, the headquarter for CATL—the largest battery manufacturer globally—Huiwen and her family have firsthand experience of the significant impact these developments have brought to their small city. The battery industry has provided Ningde, a region previously lagging in development, with opportunities for high-value economic engagement and a newfound sense of pride. However, the repercussions for the local population are undeniable, encompassing increased traffic congestion, a surge in housing prices, the crowding out of other low-carbon economic activities due to battery manufacturing's high energy demands, and potential environmental pollution. The distribution of costs and benefits is starkly uneven. In a related vein, Huiwen is deeply concerned with the fate of retired batteries and those who ultimately handle this waste. Her fieldwork in Dongguan's family workshops has been crucial for this aspect of her study. Collaborating with Cristobal and Pablo, she contributes to the World of Lithium project by tracing the lifecycle of spent batteries in Guangdong from their end-of-use forward. This research aims to understand how justice concerns are interwoven with green transitions, exploring alternative policy solutions that extend beyond a technocratic focus to embrace the interests and voices of often overlooked social groups.


Huiwen Gong is Associate Professor of Regional Studies and Innovation at the Business School of the University of Stavanger. She holds a PhD in Economic Geography from Kiel University, Germany. From 2020-2022, she was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellow with the topic "The Geographies of Value Chain Construction in Emerging Complex Industries: a Comparative Study of the Electric Vehicle Lithium-ion Battery Industry in China and Germany". Her research focuses on the geographies of sustainability transitions, Sino-German industrial dynamics, regional foresight and the geography of innovation with a particular interest in the battery value chains in China and Europe. She has conducted extensive field research in various industries (video games, blockchain, and batteries) in different regions in China, Germany and Switzerland. Her current research examines the strategies for building battery value chains by corporate and state actors in China and Europe (Germany and Nordic countries) under intensified geopolitical tensions with a particular focus on the local social, environmental and economic impacts of such a global battery craze.

Previous publications

Gong, H*., & Anderson, A. (2024). The role of natural resources in accelerating net-zero transitions:  Insights from EV lithium-ion battery Technological Innovation System in China. Technological Forecast and Social Change.

Gong, H., Yu, Z*., Binz, C., & Truffer, B.(2023). Beating the casino: Conceptualizing an anchoring-based ‘third route’ to regional development. Economic Geography.

Gong, H*., & Hansen, T. (2023). The Rise of China's New Energy Vehicle Battery Industry: The Coevolution of Battery Technological Innovation Systems and Policies. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions.