The Trilemma of Energy Justice – Insights from India’s Solar Mission

Dr Komali Yenneti1

1University of New South Wales, Kensington, Australia


In the recent years, social issues around renewable energy implementation have been gaining prominence both in developed and developing countries. Though researchers in developed countries have started dealing with this issue, there is a dearth of literature in developing countries. It is essential that justice issues are re-examined in this new arena that will increasingly affect the livelihoods of thousands of people in densely populated and socio-economically unequal developing country regions. In this paper, I explore the ‘trilemma of energy justice’ using the case study of a large scale ‘Solar Park’ implementation in India. The energy justice framework used in this paper corresponds to the theoretical knowledge on a) procedural justice, b) distributional justice and c) recognition principles based in social, environmental, spatial and energy justice literatures. The findings of this research provides new insights into how social justice issues, such as recognition of marginalised communities, equal and democratic participation and just distribution of project outcomes, are intrinsically interconnected to implementation of ‘environmentally good’ projects. This work is unique and timely as global leaders scale-up sustainable energy policies to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Dr. Komali Yenneti is a Lecturer and New Generation Network Scholar at UNSW Sydney as well as an Honorary Fellow at the Australia-India Institute. She has an extensive education, research, policy and advocacy experience in climate change, energy policy and global development in the Asia Pacific. She has served in research, advocacy and advisory capacities for several international organizations in the past, including The Energy and Resources Institute, CEPT University, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, and German Development Institute. Komali is interested in inspiring next-generation scholars, and is the founding chair of the IGU’s Young and Early-Career Geographers Task Force.

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