Thesis title: Renewable Energy Technologies: A New Area for Resource Conflicts?
This research agenda aims to understand how the expansion of renewable energy technologies (“RET”) affect armed conflict and civil resistance/disorder situations in source countries.
The research question of this study can be stated as follows: To what extent conflicts in source countries of RET raw materials are linked to the expansion of RET?
The first main assumption of the study suggests that the expansion of the use of RET would increase demand for raw materials required to generate energy using RET. The increased demand would lead to higher demand for raw materials, ceteris paribus. According to the second assumption, the hike in expected revenues from raw materials would lead to increased mining activity. The growing significance of mining activities causes more severe armed interference or civil resistance/disorder, in quality and/or quantity, in resource extraction/collection zones.
Expected research agenda is as follows: first, raw materials used in RET and the trends in their demand will be identified. Then, cases from source countries suffering RET-related civil resistance/disorders and armed interference will be identified and thoroughly studied with a mixed approach –including qualitative and quantitative data collections and analyses– in order to test the hypotheses above and find observations regarding the main causal relationship enquired by the study. This study will use data bases, reports and other bibliographical materials as main data collection resource. However, when they aren’t available, interviews may be used to provide observations for cases.
Once the analysis of country cases is completed, if the hypotheses are verified, this would mean that conflicts -as well as their intensity- in source countries are linked to the expansion of RET and that conflicts can be expected to divert to new areas rather than disappear as RET continue to expand. This outcome is scientifically important to understand the impact of the increasing energy generation share of RET on global peace and security.
However, it could also be the case that conflicts are not linked to the transition towards RET, unlike what main assumptions of the study suggest. This finding should not be a concern since the main objective of this study is the scientific enquiry itself and not reaching a particular conclusion. A possible explanation could be that conflicts in source countries, to a large extent, emerge as a result of country-specific factors, which aren’t strongly affected by or attributed to factors related to RET raw materials. In such case, in the rest of the research, the absence of links between the two main variables, -conflicts and expansion of RET- will be explained in detail with possible alternative explanations.
Mete is a PhD candidate at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources. He completed his MSc in International Political Economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2017 and his BA in International Relations at Galatasaray University in 2016.
Before joining UCL, Mete worked as local adviser at various positions at the British Chamber of Commerce in Turkey (BCCT), British Embassy Ankara (local branches of Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Trade) and Business France Istanbul. He conducted extensive research on global energy affairs as well as renewable energy, infrastructure and sustainability projects during his most recent posts at BCCT and British Embassy, which encouraged him to specialise in the politics of renewable energy through a research degree.