Accelerating Sustainable Energy Transition(s) in Developing Countries: The challenges of climate change and sustainable development, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Accelerating Sustainable Energy Transition(s) in Developing Countries

The challenges of climate change and sustainable development, 1st Edition

By Laurence L Delina


180 pages | 50 B/W Illus.

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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.

This book will be of interest to students and scholars of energy and climate policy, development studies, international relations, politics, strategic studies, and geography. It is also useful to policymakers and development practitioners.


"A thought-provoking volume that ties together the salient topic of energy transitions through a diverse array of lenses. Its engagement with institutional theory, technology studies, energy policy, and finance makes this a book to be reckoned with." — Benjamin K. Sovacool, Professor of Energy Policy, University of Sussex, UK

"The hopes of the Paris Agreement in 2015 were quickly quelled by Trump’s presidency and his climate change skepticism. Delina’s book is extremely timely in this era of uncertainty and urgently calls for the acceleration of sustainable energy transitions in developing countries. This book makes a major contribution on how to evoke this change, focusing on the fields of hardware, financing and institution shift." — May Tan-Mullins, Dean of Graduate Studies, and Director of Asia and Pacific Studies, The University of Nottingham Ningbo China, China

"Current development pathways fail to propel the world toward a sustainable and more prosperous future for human society and the planet. The countries that need to develop the most are also those that stand to lose the most from climate change-related impacts. The good news is there is a better future to be had. By achieving a sustainable energy system transition, we can take our global environment and development goals and "move the needle" toward making them a reality. This book accurately illuminates the indisputable linkages between energy access, poverty alleviation and sustainable development through achieving energy system transitions across the developing global south. By taking stock of the current capacities available for accelerating the transition, it provides a menu of solutions across policy, financing and governance to tackle the vast barriers presently preventing us from moving at the speed and scale required. There is no one silver bullet and the task ahead is immense. But as explained in this book, an energy system transition that is socially just offers us a better, more prosperous future for all." — Andrew Steer, President and Chief Executive Officer, World Resources Institute, USA

"Laurence Delina's new book presents research findings that make a significant contribution to the current literature on sustainability and energy development. The analysis is novel and the book fills a vacuum for a better understanding of sustainable energy transitions from a developing country perspective. The author’s key message is that the deployment of transition hardware to achieve sustainable energy development and climate change mitigation goals will require enabling and inclusive policy frameworks, appropriate and flexible financing mechanisms and, most importantly, institutional arrangements to channel energy transition." — Debajit Palit, Associate Director, The Energy and Resources Institute, TERI, India

"Laurence Delina’s book is a timely and significant contribution to a real discussion that policymakers in developing countries are already having. As a climate change negotiator for the Philippines and as a sustainable energy advocate, I appreciate how Delina presents comprehensive information and analysis on our options. He grounds his analysis on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, both agreed to in 2015. The book also profiles fourteen developing countries: Bhutan, Brazil, Chile, China, El Salvador, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Nepal, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, and Zambia. Given the diversity of these countries, geographically and in terms of state of development, the insights and lessons Delina extracts from these case studies will inform developing countries of any region, whether the country is middle income or less developed. The book reassures and gives practical guidance for all our countries to achieve an energy-secure future, one that guarantees access to affordable energy to the poor without sacrificing the environment and exacerbating climate change." — Antonio La Viña, Executive Director, Manila Observatory, and Climate Change Lead Negotiator for the Philippines

"Laurence Delina’s new book starts from the premise that "a global transition to socially inclusive and low carbon development that is responsive to poverty reduction has become indispensible." Founded firmly in the belief that such transitions are not only necessary but also achievable, Accelerating Sustainable Energy Transitions in Developing Countries makes a major contribution towards clarifying the choices that lay before key decision-makers when determining how such ambitious goals might best be operationalized at the national level. Recognising that sustainable energy transitions will take many different forms, reflecting the diversity of resource endowments, political realities/capacities and financial circumstances, Delina traces the contours of the potential "technology options, policy and funding options and institutional designs" open to those charged with turning rhetorical international commitments into real progress." -- Ed Brown, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, Loughborough University, UK, and National Co-Coordinator, UK Low Carbon Energy for Development Network

"Accelerating Sustainable Energy Transitions in Developing Countries is rich in promise and possibilities. It puts forth evidence to demonstrate that such a transition is both possible and desirable in fourteen nations. Overall, this is a work of significant breadth exploring technologies, policy strategies, financial paths and institutional support mechanisms for supporting a global energy transition that requires expedience. It is a valuable gateway into what is perhaps the greatest challenge mankind has ever faced."-- Scott Victor Valentine, Assistant Dean (Research) and Associate Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Table of Contents


Rachel Kyte

Chapter One: Introduction

Chapter Two: Study countries

Chapter Three: Transition hardware

Chapter Four: Accelerating deployment

Chapter Five: Policy turn

Chapter Six: Financing turn

Chapter Seven: Institutional turn

Chapter Eight: Conclusion

About the Author

Laurence L. Delina, a Rachel Carson Fellow, conducts research at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University, USA.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Energy Transitions

Considerable interest exists today in energy transitions. Whether one looks at diverse efforts to decarbonize, or strategies to improve the access levels, security and innovation in energy systems, one finds that change in energy systems is a prime priority.

Routledge Studies in Energy Transitions aims to advance the thinking which underlies these efforts. The series connects distinct lines of inquiry from planning and policy, engineering and the natural sciences, history of technology, STS, and management. In doing so, it provides primary references that function like a set of international, technical meetings. Single and co-authored monographs are welcome, as well as edited volumes relating to themes, like resilience and system risk.

Key focus areas: Technology change and fuel substitution, centralized-decentralized shifts, new business models and market redesign, innovation systems, governance levers/approaches or economics in transitions, etc. Writing on different types of energy transitions is encouraged. 

Dr. Kathleen Araújo is the Director of the Energy Policy Institute with the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, a consortium of public universities, Idaho National Laboratory, and industry. She is also an Associate Professor in the School of Public Service at Boise State University, where she specializes in policy and innovation systems associated with energy transitions and industrial development.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal for this series, please contact Annabelle Harris, Editor for Environment and Sustainability: [email protected]

Series Advisory Board

Morgan Bazilian, Columbia University, Center for Global Energy Policy (US)

Thomas Birkland, North Carolina State University (US)

Aleh Cherp, Central European University (CEU, Budapest) and Lund University

Mohamed El-Ashry, UN Foundation

Jose Goldemberg, Universidade de Sao Paolo (Brasil) and UN Development Program, World Energy Assessment

Michael Howlett, Simon Fraser University (Canada)

Jon Ingimarsson, Landsvirkjun, National Power Company (Iceland)

Michael Jefferson, ESCP Europe Business School

Jessica Jewell, IIASA (Austria)

Florian Kern, University of Sussex, Science Policy Research Unit and Sussex Energy Group (United Kingdom)

Derk Loorbach, DRIFT (Netherlands)

Jochen Markard, ETH (Switzerland)

Nabojsa Nakicenovic, IIASA (Austria)

Martin Pasqualetti, Arizona State University, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning (US)

Mark Radka, UN Environment Programme, Energy, Climate, and Technology

Rob Raven, Utrecht University (Netherlands)

Roberto Schaeffer, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Energy Planning Program, COPPE (Brasil)

Miranda Schreurs, Technische Universität Mūnchen, Bavarian School of Public Policy (Germany)

Vaclav Smil, University of Manitoba and Royal Society of Canada (Canada)

Benjamin Sovacool, Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex, UK

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy