Redrawing the Geopolitical Map: International Relations and Renewable Energies
In the emerging renewable energy era, political influence will accrue to those states with renewable resources that attain self-sufficiency and export dominance. The losers will be the countries lagging behind, still bound to hydrocarbon supplies and asymmetrical supply relations, and unable to reap the full political and economic benefits of renewables. Drawing upon theories of international relations, this chapter explores the links between energy and national power as well as the implications of energy-related dependencies. In general, states in asymmetrical relationships are vulnerable to external pressure and more constrained in their foreign policy options. With renewable energies, energy relations will be more mutual and symmetrical. However, states could be import dependent in at least three areas: (1) electricity supply via high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines; (2) biofuels, and (3) critical materials. The hydrocarbons-to-renewables transition may take decades to unfold, but the trajectories countries opt for now will be decisive. With insights extracted from the scholarship on technological change (the multi-level perspective), three variables are identified that represent the forces either facilitating or impeding transitions to renewable energies: (1) raw renewable energy potential, (2) political receptiveness, and (3) the strength/weakness of the hydrocarbon lobby. These variables provide a way to surmise which countries might be the winners or losers and how renewable energies could redraw the world’s ‘geopolitical map’. The chapter closes with a discussion of the implications and argues that the power dynamics associated with renewable energies will be far different from those of oil and natural gas.
KeywordsGeopolitics Renewable energies Energy transition International relations Multi-level perspective
For their assistance with various phases of this study, I would like to thank Batyr Araztaganov, Christine Brandstätt, Lydia Canals, Andrea Giuliani, Henrik Jacobsen, Julia Kusznir, Stefan Kuzmanovski, Didem Serkan, Colin Vance and Adi Wilhelm. For their helpful reviews, I thank Daniel Scholten and Thijs Van de Graaf. All remaining errors are mine alone.
- BBC. (2006, January 22). Russia blamed for ‘gas sabotage’. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4637034.stm. Accessed March 10, 2017.
- BMWi. (2016, July 20). What exactly is meant by “sector coupling”? Newsletter Energiewende Direkt, Issue 13. Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie (German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy). http://www.bmwi-energiewende.de/EWD/Navigation/DE/Home/home.html; jsessionid=1B01A3575BF186021A9E911D782E5726. Accessed August 15, 2017.
- Campbell, J. L. (2010). Institutional reproduction and change. In The Oxford (Ed.), Handbook of comparative institutional analysis (pp. 87–116). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- CIA World Factbook. Country comparison: Natural gas—Proved reserves. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2253rank.html. Accessed March 12, 2017.
- CIA World Factbook. Country comparison: Crude oil—Proved reserves. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/fields/2244.html#36. Accessed March 12, 2017.
- Climate Reality Project. 2016. Follow the leader: How 11 countries are shifting to renewable energies. https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/follow-leader-how-11-countries-are-shifting-renewable-energy. Accessed 3 May 2017.
- Criekemans, D. 2011. The geopolitics of renewable energy: different or similar to the geopolitics of conventional energy? Conference paper. ISA Annual Convention 2011, 16–19 March 2011, Montréal, Canada.Google Scholar
- DESERTEC.org. 2017. http://www.desertec.org/. Accessed April 27, 2017.
- Early, B. R. (2015). Busted sanctions: Explaining why economic sanctions fail. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Energy Information Agency (EIA). (2017). Beta International Energy Statistics. https://www.eia.gov/beta/international/. Accessed April 16, 2017.
- EU Commission (EC). (2010). Critical raw materials for the EU. Report of the ad-hoc working group on defining critical raw materials. Ad-hoc Working Group.Google Scholar
- Haas, E. B. (1958). The uniting of Europe: Political, economic and social forces, 1950–1957. London: Stevens & Sons.Google Scholar
- Haas, P. M. (1990). Saving the Mediterranean: The politics of international environmental cooperation. Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Hirschman, A. O. (1945). National power and the structure of foreign trade (Vol. 105). University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Hufbauer, G. C. (2007). Economic sanctions reconsidered. Washington, DC: Peterson Institute for International Economics.Google Scholar
- International Energy Agency (IEA). (2017). What is energy security? https://www.iea.org/topics/energysecurity/subtopics/whatisenergysecurity/. Accessed April 10, 2017.
- Johnson, D., & Turner, C. (1997). Trans-European networks: The political economy of integrating Europe’s infrastructure. Springer.Google Scholar
- Keck, M. E., & Sikkink, K. (1998). Activists beyond borders: Advocacy networks in international politics. Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- Keohane, R. O., & Nye, J. S. (2001). Power and interdependence. Longman Publishing Group.Google Scholar
- Klare, M. (2001). Resource wars: The new landscape of global conflict. Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Klare, M. (2008). Rising powers, shrinking planet: The new geopolitics of energy. Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Klare, M. (2012). The race for what’s left: The global scramble for the world’s last resources. Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Krasner, S. D. (1978). Defending the national Interest: Raw materials investments and U.S. foreign policy. Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Mearsheimer, J. J. (2001). The tragedy of great power politics. WW Norton & Company.Google Scholar
- Mitchell, T. (2011). Carbon democracy: Political power in the age of oil. Verso Books.Google Scholar
- Mitrany, D. (1966). A working peace system (Vol. 205). Quadrangle Books.Google Scholar
- Morgenthau, H. J. (1948). Politics among nations: The struggle for power and peace. Nova York: Alfred Kopf.Google Scholar
- Open Energy Information (OpenEI). (2017). Global CFDDA-based onshore and offshore wind potential supply curves by country, class, and depth (quantities in GW and PWh). http://en.openei.org/datasets/dataset/global-cfdda-based-onshore-and-offshore-wind-potential-supply-curves-by-country-class-and-depth-q. Accessed February 28, 2017.
- Oye, K. A. (1992). The conditions for cooperation in world politics. Art and Jervis.Google Scholar
- Pease, K. K. (2012). International organizations. Routledge.Google Scholar
- REN21. (2016). Renewables 2016 global status report. Paris: REN21 Secretariat.Google Scholar
- Schriefl, E., & Bruckner, M. M. (2016). Bedarf an Metallen für eine globale Energiewende bis 2050 – Diskussion möglicher Versorgungsgrenzen. In Kritische Metalle in der Großen Transformation (pp. 217–233). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
- SETIS Material Information Systems (MIS). Strategic energy technologies information system. European Commission. https://setis.ec.europa.eu/mis/. Accessed March 10, 2017.
- Smith Stegen, K. (2014). The risks and rewards of renewable energies. In New realities: Energy security in the 2010s and implications for the US military. Strategic Studies Institute.Google Scholar
- Smith Stegen, K. (2015b). Sustainable energy security: The hidden challenges. Keynote at ENERDAY 2015: 10th Conference on Energy Economics and Technology, TU Dresden, Germany, April 17, 2015.Google Scholar
- Smith Stegen, K., & Brandstätt, C. (2011). NIMBYism as geopolitical challenge: Achieving acceptance of clean electricity transmission. Geopolitics of Renewable Energy Workshop. Delmenhorst: Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg.Google Scholar
- Staalesen, A. (2013). Nordic countries unplug Russian power. http://barentsobserver.com/en/energy/2013/01/nordic-countries-unplug-russian-power-07-01. Accessed May 3, 2017.
- Treverton, G. F., & Jones, S. G. (2005). Measuring national power. RAND CORP Arlington VA National Security Research Div.Google Scholar
- Waltz, K. N. (1986). Anarchic orders and balances of power. In Neorealism and its critics (pp. 98–130). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- WBGU. (2003). World in transition: Towards sustainable energy systems. Flagship Report. German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU). Earthscan, London.Google Scholar
- Yergin, D. (1990). The prize: The epic quest for oil, money, and power. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar