Accountable Solar Energy TransitionS (ASSET)



The failure to rapidly cut emissions despite impending climate breakdown is undermining the legitimacy of the institutions that govern multi-scalar energy transitions. Accountability scholarship has focused on structural aspects of global and national governance, but neglected (i) informal contestation and power dynamics in sustainability transitions, and (ii) the sub-national scales where regional and local politics and priorities determine the political economy of low-carbon energy transitions. Through timely adaptation of established insights to rapid transitions beyond structuralist approaches, the project is establishing accountability analysis as a major methodology. It asks: How do accountability relations affect rapid energy transition? It is producing insights that can support the just, accountable governance of multi-scalar energy transitions in financially constrained contexts.

The project is advancing research at the intersection of accountability and energy transitions, using the rapid case of solar energy rollout. It applies an accountability analysis approach in a first-of-its-kind comparative multi-scalar design to study energy transitions governance. This is advancing research on energy governance and informing policies for Accountable Solar Energy TransitionS (ASSET). It combines ethnographic methods with an explicitly comparative research design, and integrates informal practices into future energy governance research. Unlike most solar rollout studies that focus on first-mover states, ASSET studies financially constrained contexts: Portugal and Rajasthan. Another novel aspect is the choice of many multi-scalar solar rollout projects at quite diverse energy development levels, yet with sufficient similarities for analytical comparison. Thus, the project is producing actionable knowledge on policies for just and rapid solar energy rollout and theorising the relationship between accountable governance and the impact of energy transitions.

The project involves in-depth empirical fieldwork using a combination of ethnographic techniques and secondary research within a comparative structure across Portugal and the state of Rajasthan, India. Our team investigates the governance of solar energy transitions at multiple scales and in a plethora of settings using multi-sited observations and accountability analysis. The project outputs advance accountability analysis as a novel framework, while also contributing to understanding of these solar transitions as well as governance of energy transitions more generally, especially in contexts of financial constraints. We also attend to cognate aspects that are related to solar rollouts, such as land use and energy flexibility technologies.

Funder: The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway. See

Project outputs:

For a live updated list of project outputs, please see