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The Role of Quality Standards and IPR Policy in the Governance of Sustainable Energy Transitions: The Case of Market-Based Off-Grid Solar Energy Access in India

Development
Globalisation
India
Interest Groups
Business
Climate Change
Energy
Energy Policy
Matthias Galan
Vienna University of Economics and Business – WU Wien
Matthias Galan
Vienna University of Economics and Business – WU Wien
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Abstract

Focusing on the case of market-based off-grid solar energy access in India, this paper wants to contribute to a better understanding of the role that policies on quality standards and intellectual property rights (IPR) play as part of globalized production and trade for energy transitions in the Global South. Of particular relevance is the question how far the design of policies under the pressure of fast-paced electrification in India is politically contested and what the implications for distributional justice are. The paper looks at contestation in terms of socio-economic valuations that are understood as strategic valuation narratives within a multi-scalar framework of globalized production and trade directed at market-based pro-poor energy access. Here, policies on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and quality standards in production and trade of off-grid solar technology showcase specific valuation strategies and emerging socio-economic narratives of public and private stakeholders along Global Production Networks. Such networks consist of transnational SMEs from the Global North connected directly or through intermediaries with production facilities in China and pro-poor consumer markets in India. In a first step I will describe the emergence and specificities of the Indian off-grid solar market and the role of globalized production and trade. In a second step, I will look at the role of quality standards and IPR policies in this market-based energy transition. I will conclude with a description of actors’ strategies in building narratives based on strategic valuations of off-grid solar technologies and ask what this means in terms of political contestation and perspectives for distributional justice. The paper is based on expert interviews conducted in India and China.