Doctoral dissertation: Sustainable Transition in a Developing Country Context: Drivers and Barriers for Renewable Energy Technologies in Sri Lanka

Nanthini Nagarajah defended her doctoral dissertation, titled 'Sustainable Transition in a Developing Country Context: Drivers and Barriers for Renewable Energy Technologies in Sri Lanka,' on the 20th of November.

Nanthini Nagarajah’s research focuses on getting a deeper understanding of the barriers that currently exist as well as the prevailing drivers for the timely implementation of renewable energy transition by meticulously analysing the renewable energy governance in Sri Lanka, a representative example of a developing country setting. Her research is positioned within the sustainability transition and innovation studies. Through the application of qualitative research methods, her research is aimed at getting an in-depth understanding of the multiple complexities that developing countries encounter when executing sustainability transition changes to meet their own target timelines towards becoming carbon neutral.

This is the third dissertation defence in the RESINNREG programme. The first one was held in 2022. 

More information about the dissertation of Nanthini Nagarajah:

The global decarbonisation effort primarily refers to the fundamental restructuring of established energy systems with a technological shift, with a decline in fossil fuels and a rise in renewables. However, many developing countries are evidently moving slowly in utilising emergent and matured renewable energy technologies (RET) to address the global call to bring about effective global decarbonisation.

In this global effort, transition studies recognise the need for socio-technical transition emphasised through theories and concepts developed and applied for developed countries. The geography of sustainability transition (GeoST) literature emphasises the need to pay attention to the context in which the transition emerges. In doing so, it informs the challenges of defining and operationalising sustainability transition with existing theories and concepts, as each context is intertwined with unique characteristics. This necessitates the need for revisiting and further developing theories and concepts for such contexts. The dissertation aims to understand and document the contextual conditions influencing sustainable energy transition processes linked to the implementation of RETs in Sri Lanka, a developing country.

The dissertation argues that the crucial elements of sustainability transitions, when used for analysis in geographical contexts, need to be exercised with adjustments, especially when used in a developing country context. It finds that GeoST literature needs to pay closer attention to the role of informal networks, narratives and relational materiality to assess how transitions play out in a developing country like Sri Lanka. Thus, the dissertation adds to the theory, particularly to the GeoST literature, that for transition to be responsible, the technology and the process itself need to be context-sensitive.