Johannes Urpelainen is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. His talk examines the potential for using renewable sources of energy, notably solar power, to combat energy poverty in India where two-thirds of the population relies on traditional biomass for cooking and one-third does not have access to basic household electricity. His presentation argues that solar power holds a lot of promise for providing deprived rural communities with basic electricity services, but power sector reforms are necessary for the provision of larger, productive loads of power. He also describes an experimental research design for identifying the socio-economic effects of solar power on rural communities in Uttar Pradesh.
Professor Urpelainen’s research focuses on environmental policy and politics, with a particular emphasis on sustainable energy. Among other outlets, his research has been published in The American Journal of Political Science, Global Environmental Change, International Organization, and The Journal of Politics. He is currently conducting experimental field research on solar power in India and preparing a book manuscript on the global political economy of renewable energy.