Addressing Renewable Integration in Developing Countries: The Importance of a Justice Lens

by Dr. Kaveri K. Iychettira

Date: Wednesday, 6 Oct 2021 | 16:00-17:00 CET

Abstract: Many developing countries are ambitiously investing in intermittent renewable electricity but increasingly face problems of integration of such energy into the grid. Advocates of the neoclassical-economics-based, 'standard model' of power sector reform argue that this is at least partly due to incomplete implementation of reform measures, such as unbundling, absence of incentives for economic dispatch through appropriate market signals, and exposing consumers to market signals. However, very few developing countries have actually implemented the standard model. This research therefore systematically examines both the premise and prescription of the argument to integrate renewable electricity in developing countries through elements of the standard model. This is done by highlighting the differences between power sector reform experiences in the developing and developed worlds, and the causal mechanisms underlying these differences. The underlying causal mechanisms are also compared across two disciplinary lenses – neo-classical economics and political economy. Findings demonstrate that cost-recovery issues and distributional imperatives need to be suitably addressed in order to implement markets or institutions that can enable greater integration of renewables. We also posit that an energy justice lens may provide some clarity on unpacking and addressing these power sector challenges.

Speaker Biography: Kaveri’s research is focused on the transition of energy and related sectors in the context of climate change under deep uncertainty. She approaches problems from the lenses of complex socio-technical systems, institutional analysis, systems thinking, and economics. Prior to joining IIT Delhi-SPP, she worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, on various aspects of India's transitioning electricity sector. She received her doctoral degree from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, where she investigated the design of renewable support schemes in Europe and its long-term impacts on the energy system. Apart from this, she has also worked on capacity market studies in Europe and on the deployment of solar energy in India. Dr. Kaveri Iychettira is also an Associate with the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and a Fellow at the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University.

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