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SP24 - Energy in Times of Unprecedented Challenges: Rethinking Off-grid Solar Technologies in the Global South

Convened by Nathanael Ojong (York University, Canada), Edlyne E. Anugwom (University of Nigeria and Institute of African Studies, Leipzig University, Germany) and Kirsten Ulsrud (Solar Exchange & Cicero - Center for International Climate Research, Norway)

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The limitations of the centralized grid and climate change concerns have ignited interest in renewable energy sources in the Global South. In September 2015, the United Nations set a new target (Sustainable Development Goal [SDG] 7) to promote access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030. To achieve this goal, off-grid solar technologies, that is those solar energy technologies which function outside the national grid such as lanterns, pico-systems, solar home systems, micro- or mini-grids are increasingly being used in the Global South. However, these technologies are embedded in the broader development discourse, hence require a greater understanding of their inner workings. This panel will focus on how political, economic, institutional, social, and cultural forces shape the adoption, acceptance and diffusion or rejection of off-grid solar technologies in the Global South, including how inequalities and facets of exclusion are manifested at different levels and spaces. Papers in this panel will address the following questions: How do political, economic, institutional, social, and cultural forces influence the adoption or rejection of off-grid solar technologies in the Global South? What are the injustices associated with off-grid electrification? And how are these injustices manifested? These are important questions which need answers, as off-grid technologies are now part of the energy landscape in the Global South.