The Disruptive Politics of Renewable Energy

Initiative on Climate, Energy & Environment

The expansion of renewable energy (RE) within India’s electricity system is not a technical question alone. It is also an inherently political struggle between powerful incumbents and disruptive challengers, with destabilising consequences for existing institutional forms and power structures. The existing system is held in place by a supporting configuration of technology, politics and institutions. If RE is to substantially displace fossil fuels, the existing configuration will have to give way to a new such configuration that supports RE. This article explains the existing political and institutional underpinnings of the current electricity system, and discusses the forces that hold them in place and what it will take to shake these loose.

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