Transitions to Renewable Energy in Industrializing Countries A comparative case study of the Indian states Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu

Transitions to Renewable Energy in Industrializing Countries A comparative case study of the Indian states Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu

A  key  challenge  for  future  climate  change  mitigation  efforts  will  be  to  ensure that  industrializing  countries  make  a  successful  transition  from  a  fossil-heavy energy  system  to  a  more  sustainable  one,  where  renewable  energy  sources  are predominant. Yet, great variation is observed in the degree of renewable energy spread  in  industrializing  countries.  What  explains  this  variation?  This  report aims  to  shed  light  on  the  determinants  of  variation  in  renewable  energy transitions in one  key  industrializing country: India, in hopes that explanations for  renewable  energy  spread  here  can  be  applied  to  this  group  of  countries  in general. Through a comparative case study of the electricity sector of the Indian states  Maharashtra  and  Tamil  Nadu,  propositions  derived  from  two  different theoretical perspectives on societal transitions are tested, and linkages are drawn between proposed explanatory mechanisms and the degree of renewable energy spread in the two states.
The report concludes that in the analyzed cases, clear and direct support policy instruments  aimed  at  facilitating  renewable  energy  greatly  help  its  spread,  as long  as  other  contending  political  issues  are  not  more  salient  and  are  taking precedence.  One  such  contending  political  issue  is  rapid  growth  in  energy demand.  Differences  in  renewable  energy  spread  in  Maharashtra  and  Tamil Nadu can largely be traced back to the  more pressing energy demand situation in the former state, and the greater political saliency of renewable energy in the latter. At the end of the analyzed period, when these two aspects become more similar across cases,  the  differences in renewable energy spread also dissipate. A  directly  observed  process  is  that  higher  power  deficits  and  higher  energy demand  growth  leads  to  pressure  towards  the  ability  of  renewable  energy  to provide  enough  electricity.  This  in  turn  forces  a  shift  in  state  priority  towards fossil  energy  sources.  Empirical  observations  throughout  the  analysis  further indicate  that  a  high  coal  dependency  is  linked  to  a  generally  lower  spread  of renewable energy.

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