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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Applied Research Programme on Energy and Economic Growth (EEG) is led by Oxford Policy Management in partnership with the Center for Effective Global Action and the Energy Institute @ Haas at the University of California, Berkeley. The programme is funded by the UK Government, through UK Aid. Over the course of five years, EEG will commission rigorous research exploring the links between energy economic growth and poverty reduction in low-income countries. This evidence will be specifically geared to meet the needs of decision makers and enable the development of large-scale energy systems that support sustainable, inclusive growth in low income countries in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. 

The EEG Paper Series showcases 18 "State of Knowledge" papers produced in Phase 1 of the EEG programme. These papers, peer reviewed by experts in relevant disciplines, address gaps in knowledge and data in six critical themes related to energy and economic growth: the links between electricity supply and growth, finance and governance aspects, large scale renewables, sustainable urbanization and energy efficiency, the role of extractives, and design of energy systems. Cross-cutting themes of gender, climate change, and data are also addressed in dedicated papers. 

Cover page of The Impact of Electricity on Economic Development: A Macroeconomic Perspective

The Impact of Electricity on Economic Development: A Macroeconomic Perspective


We find that electricity use and access are strongly correlated with economic development, as theory would suggest. Despite large empirical literatures and suggestive case evidence, there are, however, few methodologically strong studies that establish causal effects on an economy-wide basis. There is some evidence that reliability of electricity supply is important for economic growth. We propose that future research focuses on identifying the causal effects of electricity reliability, infrastructure, and access on economic growth; testing the replicability of the literature; and deepening our theoretical understanding of how lack ofavailability of electricity can be a constraint to growth.

Cover page of What Do We Know About Economic Diversification in Oil-Producing Countries?

What Do We Know About Economic Diversification in Oil-Producing Countries?


Countries dependent on oil and mineral exports are often advised to diversify their economies, yet surprisingly little is known about how this can be done. This paper reviews the recent literature on diversification in resource-dependent states and suggests it has been constrained by missing and inconsistent data, and a reliance on diversification measures that are relatively uninformative for resource-rich states. It then uses an improved measure of export concentration from Papageorgiou and Spatafora to document three empirical patterns over the last half-century: the divergence between oil-producing states and non-oil states; the reconcentration of exports in most oil and mineral producing states since 1998, caused by the boom in commodity prices; and the heterogeneity of the oil producers, marked by greater diversification in Latin America and Southeast Asia, mixed performances in the Middle East, and greater concentration in Africa and the former Soviet Union. While change in the former Soviet Union was spurred by large new discoveries, the diversification failure of all oil- producing states in both North and sub-Saharan Africa is striking, and stands in contrast to the region’s non-oil producers. The paper concludes with a research agenda for deepening our understanding of this issue.

Cover page of Powering the City in the Global South: Increasing Energy Access for all in a Context of Urbanisation and Changing Governance

Powering the City in the Global South: Increasing Energy Access for all in a Context of Urbanisation and Changing Governance


This paper addresses the role of governance of urban areas in shaping energy use in LICs and MICs, from the perspective of the poorest and disadvantaged. Urban dwellers in LICs and MICs often access electricity  through irregular, patchy and informal connections which are frequently considered illegal. This situation is closely linked to how urban areas develop in LICs and MICs, often with weak urban governance and little control, resulting in what is termed‘informal settlements’ and slums. Studies of urban infrastructure in LICs and MICs have tended to concentrate on water and sanitation networks, with comparatively very limited attention being paid to access to electricity. The paper reviews the literature that exists on access toelectricity in urban areas in the Global South, and draws on experiences in other urban infrastructures that may provide lessons towards improving such access for the poorest and disadvantaged.

Cover page of Modular and discrete: Opportunities for alternative power system planning, expansion and operation in developing countries

Modular and discrete: Opportunities for alternative power system planning, expansion and operation in developing countries


When developing electricity systems, generation and grid have been separately planned and demand has generally been assumed passive, estimated using aggregated approaches. However a variety of design, technology and regulatory solutions are available in modern power systems for a more tailored approach to power system development, which may hold great promise for low income countries to leapfrog towards sustainable and decentralised energy delivery. Monitoring of power systems from generation to load, PMUs, on-site storage, DLR, OLTC, direct load control or innovative network topologies including micro- and mini-gridscan reduce total costs, increase asset utilisation and modify the optimal phase-in of investments along a planning horizon. These allow for new planning approaches and more holistic phase-in of generation and networks. This paper reviews the scientific literature and best practice databases, providing a state-of-the-art perspective on the technical options,costs, benefits and barriers to deployment of a progressive build-up of power infrastructure.

Cover page of Economic and Non-Economic Barriers and Drivers for the Uptake of Renewables

Economic and Non-Economic Barriers and Drivers for the Uptake of Renewables


Large scale renewables raise new challenges and provide new opportunities across electricity systems. This paper considers the barriers faced by large scale renewables in electricity systems in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. We review the current state of knowledge in relation to grid-connected renewables. This paper then explores key issues in electricity systemstructure, the main challenges to the uptake of renewables, and the various existing fiscal and policy approaches to encouraging renewables. We also highlight possible ways moving forward to ensure more widespread renewables deployment.

Cover page of Energy Efficiency in the Developing World

Energy Efficiency in the Developing World


The literature assessing demand-side energy efficiency potential, and the policiesthat can be deployed to tap this potential has traditionally focused on developed andemerging economies. We review the state of knowledge on demand-side energy efficiency investments, and reframe the discussion in terms that are better suited to a low income country setting. This reframing opens up new lines of inquiry which have been under-emphasized to date. We provide a conceptual framework for exploring questions concerning the returns on investment in energy efficiency, market failures and barriers that can lead to under-investment, rebound effects, and policies designed to accelerate cost-effective investment. We highlight some institutional considerations that should inform policy prioritization and implementation in LIC settings. A case study of a large scale efficiency program in India underscores both the challenges and the potential forwelfare improving energy efficiency programs in the developing world.

Cover page of The Political Economy of Aid for Power Sector Reform

The Political Economy of Aid for Power Sector Reform


Recent literature on the effectiveness of donor programmes points to the importance of understanding the political context within which reforms are taking place. A body of evidence is now emerging suggesting that programmes that are more flexible and iterative are often more successful in achieving their objectives than programmes that adopt a more rigid, linear approach to reform and recent experiments with projects that “think and work politically” appear to show promising results.

The characteristics of the power sector makes reform intensely political in almost all countries and donor projects have sometimes failed because of an inability to navigate the local politics of reform. This paper reviews what is known about how donors have taken politics into account in designing and implementing power sector reform programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. It illustrates the challenges which donors have faced with reference to case studies of donor attempts to support power sector reform in Tanzania and in the Indian state of Orissa. The paper draws on documentary evidence from the major donors to the sector in each country as well as a set of qualitative interviews with experienced project supervisors. It concludes with a set of recommendations for further research designed to provide insights on how best to design and implement power sector reform programmes given the political context in which they are working.

Cover page of Gender Implications of Energy Use and Energy Access

Gender Implications of Energy Use and Energy Access


The article reviews and consolidates both theory and findings on the gender consequences of energy access in the Global South. The literature shows that women across the Global South have far greater responsibility than men for the work involved in producing essential home energy services such as light and heat, cooking, and cleaning. The most significant impact of electrification is that it enables better time management by women and the reduction of physical work (drudgery). There is evidence from a number of settings that the time saved can be used by women to study, take on salaried work and start new small businesses, and that these benefits can be facilitated by including women in energy governance and planning. A point that is often missed, underestimated or misunderstood from a North American/European perspective is that gendered ideologies and practices in the Global South are deeply anchored in family and kin relations. The joint family is an entity and network through which money, assets and commodities move, creating obligations which are important to understanding the interaction of gender relations and energy access.

Cover page of Leveraging Smart System Technologies in National Energy Data Systems: Challenges and Opportunities

Leveraging Smart System Technologies in National Energy Data Systems: Challenges and Opportunities


Effective energy policies rely on credible and comprehensive national energy data systems, in developed and developing economies alike. Smart system technologies will play a central role in the clean energy transition—including applications in smart homes, factories, transport systems, and renewable electricity grids—and their ability to compile and communicate point-of-use energy data presents new opportunities for improving national energy data systems. This paper reviews the growing importance of energy data systems for energy policy in the developing country context, identifies key characteristics a national data system needs to have in order to be robust and viable, discusses the potential role of smart system technologies in national energy data systems moving forward, and recommends several future research areas to better understand their potential, and in developing countries in particular.

Cover page of Economic Growth and Development with Low-Carbon Energy

Economic Growth and Development with Low-Carbon Energy


Modern forms of energy are an important driver of economic growth, and providing access to cheap, reliable energy is an essential development objective. However, in future that energy will have to be low- and ultimately zero-carbon. The transition to zero-carbon energy systems is unavoidable if global climate change objectives are to be met, and although the speed of decarbonisation may differ it has to happen to varying degrees in all countries. This paper reviews the economics of greenhouse gas mitigation in developing countries. It reviews the literature on how climate change mitigation in the energy sector may affect economic growth and development; sets out empirical findings about trajectories for energy intensity and emissions intensity (which together with GDP determine emission levels) and analyses options for and barriers to effective decarbonisation policies. We conclude by identifying research gaps.