A resource curse for renewables? Conflict and cooperation in the renewable energy sector

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Previous studies have shown that fossil energy systems can be a conflict objective, means or cause. This study explores how renewable energy (RE) systems can interact with conflicts and to what extent the risk of different conflicts may change. Renewable resources, in contrast to conventional fossil resources, are more difficult to control in time and space. RE systems depend on exploiting flows rather than extracting stocks, are geographically more evenly distributed, and the energy density is lower. As a consequence, economic and geopolitical incentives for states to engage in conflicts to secure or control RE resources are low. However, increased competition for land increases the risk of local conflicts that involve non-state actors, since it can reduce actor's ecological space. Distribution and use of RE can be designed to have a low risk of interacting with conflicts, but the success of this depends on the technologies implemented and other sustainability policies. Increased dependence on control systems used to manage variable electricity production increase exposure to cyber threats while as small-scale distributed generation reduce incentives to attack the system since such systems are less sensitive to attacks.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science


  • Renewable energy, Security, Conflict, Energy security
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Issue numberNovember
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch

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