PublicationsThe U4 Blog

U4 Brief

Greening energy: An anti-corruption primer

Corruption is expected to pose major obstacles for the green energy transition. Decarbonisation of energy systems requires investments from the tens to hundreds of trillions of dollars. It is widely acknowledged that corruption is used to artificially extend the life of carbon-intensive industries, yet green energy itself is far from immune from corrupt practices. The effects of corruption on green transition outcomes are likely contingent on local political economies and the reactions of power holders to new constraints and opportunities. Targeted-to-context and politically savvy responses that address underlying causes and enablers of corruption are therefore essential.

14 November 2022
Download PDF
Greening energy: An anti-corruption primer

Main points

  • Economies that reduce dependence on fossil fuels and diversify their energy mix should, in theory, be less beholden to the autocrats who tend to emerge in extractive-resource rich countries and who typically adopt strategies of patronage and rent-seeking to shore up support.
  • Green energy transitions might provide unique opportunities for anti-corruption reformers, but renewable energy is not immune from corruption.
  • The sheer size of needed green energy investments poses many dilemmas for project implementors, regulators, watchdogs and judiciaries.
  • Forms of corruption already affecting green energy include institutional capture, rent-seeking, nepotism, bribery, tender-rigging or ‘tenderprenuership’, as well as collusion.
  • In addressing the challenges, donors should not only support greater production of data and analysis, push for transparency and new reforms, but also facilitate recourse to sanctions that close accountability loops for victims of green energy corruption.

Cite this publication

Williams, A.; (2022) Greening energy: An anti-corruption primer. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Brief 2022:3)

Download PDF

About the author

Aled Williams is a political scientist and senior researcher at Chr. Michelsen Institute and a principal adviser at the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre. He is responsible for U4's thematic work on corruption in natural resources and energy, and holds a PhD from SOAS, University of London, on political ecology of REDD+ in Indonesia.


All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)