Renewable Energy and Geopolitics: A Review

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 122, 109547, 2020

12 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2020

See all articles by Roman Vakulchuk

Roman Vakulchuk

NUPI - Norwegian Institute for International Affairs

Indra Overland

NUPI - Norwegian Institute of International Affairs; NUPI - Norwegian Institute for International Affairs

Daniel Scholten

Delft University of Technology - Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

This article reviews the literature on the geopolitics of renewable energy. It finds that while the roots of this literature can be traced back to the 1970s and 1980s, most of it has been published from 2010 onwards. The following aggregate conclusions are extracted from the literature: renewable energy has many advantages over fossil fuels for international security and peace; however, renewable energy is thought to exacerbate security risks and geopolitical tensions related to critical materials and cyber-security; former hydrocarbon exporters will likely be the greatest losers from the energy transition. Many of the reviewed publications share some weaknesses: a failure to define “geopolitics”; an unwarranted assumption that very little has been published in the field previously; limited use of established forecasting, scenario-building or foresight methodologies; a lack of recognition of the complexity of the field; a lack of theorization. Most authors do not distinguish between the geopolitical risks associated with different types of renewable energy, and only a few distinguish clearly between the geopolitics of the transitional phase and the geopolitics of a post-energy transition world. A disproportionately large part of the literature is dedicated to critical materials and cyber-security, while only a small part concerns the decline of former fossil fuel powers. Among those publications that do discuss the decline of fossil fuels, there is also an over-focus on oil producers and a lack of attention to the countries that rely heavily on coal, for example Australia, China, Germany, Indonesia, Poland and the United States.

Keywords: Renewable Energy, Geopolitics, Energy Security, Energy Transition, Critical Materials, Petrostate Decline, Literature Review

JEL Classification: O13, F5

Suggested Citation

Vakulchuk, Roman and Overland, Indra and Scholten, Daniel, Renewable Energy and Geopolitics: A Review (2020). Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 122, 109547, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3565990

Roman Vakulchuk (Contact Author)

NUPI - Norwegian Institute for International Affairs ( email )

Oslo
Norway

Indra Overland

NUPI - Norwegian Institute of International Affairs ( email )

Oslo
Norway

NUPI - Norwegian Institute for International Affairs ( email )

Oslo
Norway

Daniel Scholten

Delft University of Technology - Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 5015
2600 GB Delft
Netherlands

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