Assessing equity implications in the Indian energy transition through a novel modelling approach

About this project

Project description

India aims to achieve a carbon neutral economy by 2070, which would have substantial economy-wide implications for the country (e.g. the production and consumption of goods and services, employment, asset ownership, income). National strategies to achieve such targets are typically informed by modelling studies which simulate (a) the energy system and its technology-cost pathways (eg., TIMES-MARKAL), and/or (b) broader macro-economic change (eg., CGE).
Researchers and civil society have identified major concerns with the distributional implications of the coming energy transition, regarding (for example) jobs, income, and decision-making power. Policies that enable low-carbon investment (e.g. mega solar parks) could worsen inequality directly (through encroachment, exclusion) and indirectly (increasing financial risks on the vulnerable). While studies suggest that incorporating equity issues is crucial to understanding the cost-benefit tradeoffs of decarbonization, they are seldom addressed in conventional modelling. New approaches are needed to adequately explore the equity implications of decarbonization transitions.
This project will investigate the equity implications of alternative policy strategies aiming for deep, rapid decarbonization of India’s energy system, along socio-economic dimensions that may include distribution of assets, income, risks and opportunities. Research questions will be finalized in collaboration with the student, but may include:
(i) How do the current policies and institutions for decarbonization impact distributional equity-related outcomes?
(ii) What type of a modelling approach could integrate and evaluate economic equity implications of a deep decarbonization transition for India?
(iii) What insights can we draw regarding the design of policies to promote equitable carbon-neutral energy investments?
These objectives require a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative system modelling, with qualitative approaches (interviews) to incorporate key inequality-related dynamics.  For instance, the approach could integrate spatially and sectorally disaggregated input-output tables (to capture macro-economic couplings) with targeted feedback loops that capture key system dynamics and non-linearities. The advisory team collaborate on related research, having expertise in the proposed tools and modelling techniques.


strong quantitative analytical skills, programming skills

Information for applicants

Essential capabilities

strong quantitative analytical skills, programming skills

Desireable capabilities

Desire to understand the socio-economic implications of policy change. Demonstrated interest in policy analysis; interest in the Indian energy sector; familiarity with economics

Expected qualifications (Course/Degrees etc.)

Engineering (computer science, information science, energy science) degree. Course in economics desirable

Project supervisors

Principal supervisors

UQ Supervisor

Dr Joe Lane

School of Civil Engineering
IITD Supervisor

Assistant professor Kaveri Iychettira

Department of Public Policy
Additional Supervisor

Professor Kate O’Brien