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Political Economies of Energy Transition: Wind and Solar Power in Brazil and South Africa, Kathryn Hochstetler

Reviewed by Michaël Aklin

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To mitigate climate change, our energy systems must transition from relying on fossil fuels to using clean energy sources. Doing so long appeared to be difficult from a technological standpoint. Later, as technology improved, people started to worry about the economics of doing so. Now, with better technology and lower costs, the most salient barrier to the deployment of clean energy is political.

This is where Kathryn Hochstetler's outstanding book Political Economies of Energy Transition comes in. This book offers a comprehensive analysis of the politics and policies behind the growth (or lack thereof) of solar and wind power as sources of electricity in Brazil and South Africa. As such, it fits squarely in the third generation of studies that puts politics at the heart of the clean energy transition.

The book makes two primary contributions. The first is empirical. The study of the politics of renewable energy has grown tremendously since the early 2000s, but industrialized countries have received the most attention from researchers. Much less is known about emerging markets, and even less when the markets in question are not China or India. Hochstetler's book helps address this shortcoming.

The second contribution of the book is conceptual. Hochstetler organizes her argument around four “political econom

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