Dr. Varun Rai is an Assistant Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where he directs the Energy Systems Transformation Research Group. He is a Faculty Affiliate at UT Austin's Energy Institute. Before joining UT Austin in July 2010, he was a research fellow at the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development (PESD) at Stanford University from 2008-2010. Dr. Rai received his Ph.D. and MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur.
Dr. Rai studies how the interactions between the underlying social, behavioral, economic, technological, and institutional components of the energy system impact the diffusion of clean energy technologies. In particular, his research aims to generate a holistic understanding of the processes underlying the diffusion of clean energy technologies by integrating technological knowledge with the reality of politics, regulation, and the marketplace. One of the central components of his research approach is the development and application of novel quantitative analytical methods to large-scale, integrated datasets. Most of his research is interdisciplinary, delving with issues at the interface of energy systems, complex systems, decision science, and public policy. Through an interdisciplinary investigation of diffusion phenomena in energy, Dr. Rai is developing effective policy approaches to help accelerate the deployment of sustainable energy technologies globally.
Among other venues, Dr. Rai’s research has been published in Global Environmental Change, Environmental Research Letters, Physical Review E, Energy Policy, Economic and Political Weekly, Harvard International Review, The Electricity Journal, and Technological Forecasting & Social Change. He is a contributing author in a 2012 book titled Oil and Governance: State-Owned Enterprises and the World Energy Supply (Cambridge University Press, Jan 2012). He has presented at several important forums, including the United States Senate Briefings, Global Economic Symposium, and Climate One at Commonwealth Club. Among others, his research has been discussed in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Bloomberg News. He was a Global Economic Fellow in 2009 and since 2010 he holds the Elspeth Rostow Centennial Fellowship. In July 2013 he was appointed as a Commissioner for the vertically-integrated, municipal electric utility Austin Energy, City of Austin (Texas). He serves on the Editorial Board of The Electricity Journal (Elsevier) and Energy Research & Social Science (Elsevier), for which he is also an Associate Editor.
View Dr. Rai's CV.
Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University
Associate Professor of Public Affairs, The LBJ School of Public Affairs
Research Fellow, Program on Energy and Sustainability Development, Stanford University (2008-2010)
Venugopalan, S. and Rai. V. “Topic Based Classification and Pattern Identification in Patents,” In press:doi:10.1016/j.techfore.2014.10.006, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, 2014.
Rai, V., Schultz, K. and Funkhouser, E. “International low carbon technology transfer: Do intellectual property regimes matter?” Global Environmental Change, 24, 60-74, 2014.
Noll, D., Dawes, C. and Rai, V. “Solar community organizations and active peer effects in the adoption of residential PV,” Energy Policy, 67:330–343, 2014.
Heguy, D. and Rai, V. “Technology development and learning: Coal gasification in China and the United States.” The Electricity Journal, 27 (6): 69-85, 2014.
Rai, V. “Fading Star: Explaining the Evolution of India's ONGC," in Victor, D.G., Thurber,
M.C., and Hults, D. eds. Oil and Governance: State-Owned Enterprises and the World Energy
Supply, Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Rai, V. and Victor, D. G. “Awakening Giant: Strategy and Performance of the Abu Dhabi
National Oil Company (ADNOC)," in Victor, D.G., Thurber, M.C., and Hults, D. eds. Oil and
Governance: State-Owned Enterprises and the World Energy Supply, Cambridge University
Rai, V. and Robinson, S. A. “Effective Information Channels for Reducing Costs of
Environmentally-Friendly Technologies: Evidence from Residential PV Markets,” Environmental Research Letters, 8(1), 014044(1-8), 2013.
Rai, V. and Sigrin, B. “Diffusion of Environmentally-friendly Energy Technologies: Buy vs.
Lease Differences in Residential PV Markets,” Environmental Research Letters, 8(1), 014022 (1-8), 2013.
Rai, V., Victor, D. G., and Thurber, M. C. “Carbon Capture and Storage at Scale: Lessons
from the Growth of Analogous Energy Technologies,” Energy Policy, 38:4089-4098, 2010.
Bistline, J. E. and Rai, V. “The Role of Carbon Capture and Storage in Greenhouse Gas
Emissions Reduction Models: A Parametric Study for the U.S. Power Sector,” Energy Policy,
Rai, V. and Victor, D. G. “Climate Change and the Energy Challenge: A Pragmatic Approach
for India,” Economic and Political Weekly, 44(31):78-85, 2009