UP’s Economics PhD students present at international energy economics conference

Posted on April 24, 2023

Three PhD candidates in the University of Pretoria's Department of Economics recently participated in the 44th Annual International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE) conference, which took place from 4 to 9 February 2023 in Saudi Arabia.

Themed ‘Pathways to a clean, stable and sustainable energy future’ in 2023, the annual IAEE conference is among the most influential conferences in energy economics research. It provides an opportunity for academia, the scientific community, industry, and government to assess the evolving energy landscape and explore ideas and strategies that will ensure long-term future success in a lower carbon future.

The 2023 conference brought together 600 participants including academics, industry representatives, and policymakers to discuss what the energy future could hold. The overarching theme throughout discussions was curbing emissions. Economics PhD candidates Alanda Venter, Jacobus Nel and Nancy Mukalayi were part of the delegates who shared insights on sustainable energy based on their PhD research.

Venter presented her work on institutions' impact in the energy sector in a concurrent session. In her presentation, she indicated how causality develops between economic growth, CO2 emissions and institutional quality within a Rostow growth theory framework. “Since institutions can significantly impact the prosperity of a country’s economy, this research aims to assist policymakers on when to account for integrating CO2 emissions, economic growth, and institutional quality within the policy framework,” she said, speaking on the importance of her research. Venter also represented the IAEE as a youth ambassador for the organisation.

Nel presented a paper from his PhD research, titled ’Electric vehicles and electricity consumption: Honey, did I plug in the car?’. He studied the relationship between electric vehicle sales and electricity consumption, intending to examine this relationship from a backwards-looking perspective, as opposed to the forward-looking approach from existing studies. Nel’s research considers what the potential impact of electric vehicle adoption will be in South Africa, specifically looking at the additional electricity demanded. Given the loadshedding crisis in the country, “a large electric vehicle fleet will put additional pressure on the country's supply capacity, if not accounted for in policy decisions”, he said.

Nancy Mukalayi presented his research paper on the impact of digital financial inclusion on energy consumption in sub-Saharan countries. In his presentation, he explained how a technologically advanced and inclusive financial sector would likely increase energy consumption by its pass-through effect on economic growth. Highlighting the importance of energy in global warming, Mukalayi further explained the financial sector's role in attaining higher access, low-cost and high use of cleaner technology that reduces energy intensity.

The King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center student scholarship sponsored the conference costs for the students, which included their flights and accommodation and those of their supervisor, Prof Roula Inglesi-Lotz of the Department of Economics.


- Author Department of Economics

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