Energy and Economic Growth
EEG is a research programme that will produce valuable evidence and knowledge around the critically under-researched links between energy and economic growth in low-income countries. Well-designed large-scale energy systems can bring about sustained improvements in human development indicators, while galvanising ‘green’ economic development. Yet currently there are significant gaps in the evidence available to policymakers, making it more difficult for them to navigate the complex considerations and trade-offs associated with energy investments. A key contributor to this weak evidence base is the lack of effective dialogue between researchers and policymakers that would enable identification of mutual interests.
In partnership with CEGA and the Energy Institute at Haas at the University of California Berkeley, we have been commissioned by DFID to bring together leading academics from across world to produce high-quality research papers that speak directly to the key challenges and questions faced by key decision-makers in low income countries. At the heart of the programme is an innovative research-policy interface, which will ensure that the knowledge outputs respond to and are utilised by those whose decisions are central to determining the relationship between energy and economic growth.
The role of energy in contributing to economic growth and poverty reduction is widely acknowledged. However, the existing evidence base exploring the causal impacts of energy investments is limited. This evidence gap presents a risk of misallocating scarce public resources—a risk which is compounded by the exponential growth of energy consumption in parts of the developing world, and the formidable challenges and complex trade-offs that countries face in maximising benefits and reducing potential costs. New research is urgently needed to strengthen evidence-based policymaking.
This research programme will clarify the specific nature of the evidence gaps by facilitating a dialogue between leading academics and key policymakers. It will produce original, high quality research to strengthen the evidence base and build the capacity and networks that will see this research translated into action. Ultimately, EEG will support low income countries to shift their energy production and consumption pathways towards a sustainable, efficient and equitable paradigm.
We are leading the delivery of a five year research programme whose cutting-edge knowledge products will speak directly to the needs of policymakers responsible for meeting energy needs in low-income countries.
Catherine Wolfram and Paul Gertler of the University of California Berkeley provide overall intellectual leadership, and will collaborate with a network of world-class academics from institutions in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, North America and Europe.
A thorough review of existing literature and data in the first year will enable the definition of a research framework for a subsequent series of original, high-quality research studies. This framework will also be informed by a series of policy engagement events, whose purpose is to gather perspectives and build relationships with—and between—key energy decision-makers in low-income countries. This innovative research–policy interface will be complemented by an advisory committee which includes leading figures from national and global energy companies, international organisations and research. A detailed communications and outreach strategy will increase awareness, engagement and credibility of the programme among a wide group of stakeholders around the world.
The key deliverables of the programme will be as follows:
- 15 state-of-knowledge review papers addressing the following thematic areas, which are both critical and under-researched: electricity supply, governance structures, sustainable urbanisation, large-scale renewables, the role of extractives, and innovative design. Papers on the crosscutting topics of gender, climate change and data will also be produced.
- Original research addressing policy-relevant topics, identified through dialogue between policy makers and researchers;
- Strengthened dialogue and working relationships between researchers and policymakers; and,
- Greater capacity on the part of researchers from low-income countries to undertake high-quality research on energy and economic growth.
Institutions in our consortium include the Asian Institute of Technology, International Energy Agency, Stellenbosch University, Renmin University of China, Center for Global Development, Australian National University, Council on Energy, Environment and Water, Stanford University, Fraunhofer ISI, University of Exeter, Heriot Watt University, Vivid Economics, University of Dundee, Castalia and Open Energy Information.
Our approach, which emphasises dialogue between policymakers and researchers, will ensure that knowledge outputs are specifically targeted at meeting the needs of policymakers. Bespoke strategies for communications and research uptake will ensure that the programme becomes a recognised and authoritative source of information on energy and economic growth. And by engaging with programme activities and outputs, it is anticipated that policymakers will improve the decisions they make about when, and how, to prioritise investment in high-cost energy infrastructure. The original research produced through this programme will help to transform energy policy in low-income countries by generating world-class research on the linkages between energy and economic growth. This transformation will have significant implications for poverty reduction, human development and environmental sustainability.