South Asia Institute
South Asia Institute

Varun Rai

Assistant ProfessorPhD, Stanford University

Varun Rai



Technological change, innovation and diffusion; economics of climate change; energy and development


Varun Rai earned his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 2008 with specialization in energy systems and technologies. Before joining the University of Texas at Austin in July 2010 he was a research fellow at the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development (PESD) at Stanford University from 2008-2010. He holds a M.S. from Stanford and a bachelor's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur.

His principal research interests are in technological change, innovation and diffusion; economics of climate change/integrated assessment models; and energy and development. His research combines energy systems modeling with the political economy of energy markets to understand how changes in energy technologies, market conditions, policies and regulation, and environment could impact energy generation. The emphasis of his research is on interdisciplinary and integrative research in engineering and policy to ensure that the insights from his policy research are rooted in the underlying technical realties. His past research has concentrated on three problems in particular: incentive policies and rates of technological diffusion for carbon capture and storage (CCS); performance and behavior of national oil companies; and strategies for engaging developing countries in global climate change policy.

His research has been published in Harvard International Review, Newsweek, Energy Policy, Economic and Political Weekly, and IAEE Energy Forum. He has authored two chapters, one each on the national oil companies of India and Abu Dhabi (co-authored with David Victor), in a forthcoming book (Cambridge University Press, 2011). He has presented at US Senate Briefings, Global Economic Symposium, and Climate One at Commonwealth Club. Among others, his research has been featured in Science, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Bloomberg News.

He was a Global Economic Fellow in 2009 and a Salzburg Global Seminar Fellow in 2008.

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