Dicce, Ryan P (2019-08). EXPLAINING RENEWABLE ENERGY TRANSITION THROUGH HUMAN CAPITAL ANALYSIS IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. Doctoral Dissertation.
Concerns over climate change, energy security, and the provision of subsidies to utilities motivated global investments in renewable energy during the early 2000s. Recently, geographers have adopted political economy approaches to better understand the underlying motives and rationale for renewable energy transition. The advent of large-scale renewable energy investment in oil-producing rentier states has prompted theorizations concerning the role of renewable energy in political reproduction of the state through neo-rentierism. To test these predictions/claims, this dissertation examines the human capital dimensions of energy transition in a rentier state - the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - to determine if renewable power represents a reproduction of the rentier state. Countering this claim is the idea the UAE can leverage its advanced oil knowledge to capture value and stimulate local capacity in the emerging renewable power industry. The research relied on a survey instrument designed to elicit important information concerning the human capital elements of renewable energy development and collaboration with state-based actors (n= 51) and interviews of key actors (n=24) in the UAE's renewables industry to expand upon survey responses. The findings indicate that (1) a global production network (GPN) for photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) industries in the UAE shows the centrality of the state as the primary actor in the solar energy industry; (2) market pressures, firm decision making, and individual preference-seeking create local labor markets oriented around the attraction of human capital dimensions from abroad; and (3) firm perspectives on renewable energy transition and collaboration with the state reveal the complex, place-based understandings of renewable energy transition through economic understandings, national identity construction, and technical advances. The findings contribute to geographical literatures in human capital development, management, and mobility as well as debates concerning economic development, diversification, and renewable energies.