Renewable energy changes the geopolitics of energy: whereas access to fossil fuel resources were key in the past, control over technology and industry will be key in the future. Consequently, different scholars have predicted that a growing focus on renewables will increase or decrease conflict in the energy sector, with no consensus on which is most likely. Here, we investigate the degree of conflict in renewable energy technology (RET) trade by analyzing data on 7041 trade conflicts 1995–2020, guided by two sets of theory-driven hypotheses. We show that RET trade is associated with more, longer, and more intense trade conflicts than other trade conflicts for 1995–2016. This supports the neorealist, geo-economic view of countries being willing to risk conflict to increase their share of a market rather than avoiding conflicts to increase the overall market size. It also contradicts the view that renewables will reduce conflict: at least in the past and regarding trade, it has increased rather than decreased conflict. For 2017–2020, this trend is reversed and RET trade became significantly less conflictive than other trade. Our findings imply that improved conflict-resolution institutions for RET are needed. We also suggest establishing specific institutions to govern trade in immature technologies.
- Publication Year
- Publication Type
- Academic Articles
Apergi, M., Zimmermann, E., Weko, S., & Lilliestam, J. (2023). Is renewable energy technology trade more or less conflictive than other trade? Energy policy, 177: 113538. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2023.113538.
- Staff involved
- Projects involved
- Investigating the Systemic Impacts of the Global Energy Transition (ISIGET) The Transition to a Renewable Electricity System and its Interactions with Other Policy Aims (TRIPOD)