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Electrifying developments: The political economy of electricity in unsettling times I 
Tom Lavers (University of Manchester)
Barnaby Dye (University of Manchester)
Fana Gebresenbet Erda (Institute for Peace and Security Studies)
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Infrastructure and energy
Thursday 1 July, 10:00-11:45 (UTC+1)

Short Abstract:

This panel examines the political economic factors—including power relations, institutions and ideologies—shaping electricity generation, transmission and distribution as countries and regions tackle the challenges of expanding access and meeting demand while shifting to renewable energy sources.

Long Abstract

This proposed panel examines the political dynamics shaping the generation and distribution of electricity across the global south. Recent decades have seen a return to large-scale infrastructure construction, including for electricity generation and transmission. Yet, reduced costs of small-scale distributed energy solutions including solar panels and wind turbines present a potential alternative to the standard approach of centralised generation and grid expansion. Countries expanding generation capacity with a view to meeting the growing demand of urban centres, industrial expansion, rural connections and the potential for lucrative exports do so in an unsettled and changing context. This includes: changing sources of international and domestic finance; growing levels of indebtedness; climate change and the need to shift to renewable energy; contestation over the role for state and private sector actors; and a push towards regional integration in electricity supply. This panel aims to centre attention on the political economic factors shaping electricity generation and distribution. We welcome contributions employing diverse methodologies to explore the influence of power relations, institutions and ideologies on issues including:

• The evolving role of the state and private sector in investment and ownership;

• The changing energy mix between fossil fuels, hydropower and renewables;

• Access to and utilisation of new renewable technologies;

• The competing demands of domestic, industrial, export markets;

• Rural electrification and roles of grid and off-grid solutions.

• Power-trade agreements and regional power pools;

• National electricity exports targets and potential for oversupply; and

• International finance for electricity generation and transmission.

Accepted papers: