The Future of Energy Systems in Developing Countries

The Pardee Center has created an interdisciplinary research program focused on understanding the current state of energy systems in a select number of developing countries, the options leading to secure, yet sustainable, energy futures in those countries, and the trade-offs that decision-makers will need to navigate to achieve a stable and secure power supply. Low-carbon development aimed at both sustainable development and climate change mitigation – principally through sustainable energy transitions – has become key in international policy imperatives. In the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the seventh of the 17 goals (SDG7) mandates countries to ensure universal energy access. Meanwhile, governments also agreed to reduce emissions from energy and to transition towards low-carbon economies through the Paris Agreement climate change agreement, which provides a new framework for global climate change mitigation.

This Pardee Center effort, led by post-doctoral associate Laurence Delina, examines a variety of factors – including available technology, financing mechanisms, societal support, and geographic realities – to try to determine the best options for achieving energy security. Delina drafted an assessment report and hosted a three-day workshop in July 2016 to solicit feedback from an international group of scholars, practitioners, and government officials from 12 developing countries. Since then, he has authored a book published by Routledge-Earthscan in fall 2017 titled Accelerating Sustainable Energy Transition(s) in Developing Countries: The challenges of climate change and sustainable development.

He also guest edited, with Pardee Center Director Anthony Janetos, a special issue of the journal Energy Research and Social Science (Vol. 35, January 2018) consisting of 24 accounts, stories, narratives, and perspectives on the futures of energy systems. Delina has also started gathering case studies of energy transitions in developing countries, with pilots in Thailand and the Philippines.