Program on Science, Technology and Society at Harvard

Harvard Kennedy School of Government | Harvard University

Accelerating Sustainable Energy Transition(s) in Developing Countries

October 27, 2017

Accelerating sustainable energy transitions away from carbon-based fuel sources needs to be high on the agendas of developing countries. It is key in achieving their climate mitigation promises and sustainable energy development objectives. To bring about rapid transitions, simultaneous turns are imperative in hardware deployment, policy improvements, financing innovation, and institutional strengthening. These systematic turns, however, incur tensions when considering the multiple options available and the disruptions of entrenched power across pockets of transition innovations. These heterogeneous contradictions and their trade-offs, and uncertainties and risks have to be systematically recognized, understood, and weighed when making decisions.

This book explores how the transitions occur in fourteen developing countries and broadly surveys their technological, policy, financing, and institutional capacities in response to the three key aspects of energy transitions: achieving universal energy access, harvesting energy efficiency, and deploying renewable energy. The book shows how fragmented these approaches are, how they occur across multiple levels of governance, and how policy, financing, and institutional turns could occur in these complex settings.