For resource-poor countries in the MENA, the expansion of renewables represents a unique chance to overcome established geopolitical dependencies, develop employment opportunities, and pursue a long-term strategy of domestic energy security.
While, in 2018, Jordan was declared one of the top three emerging markets globally for clean energy investment, in 2019, efforts at transition had come to a temporary halt. Jordanian attempts at energy transition were motivated by concerns for energy security, rather than sustainability. Whereas energy security and transition to renewables initially seemed to coincide, technical restraints and a renewed turn to fossil fuels have undermined efforts at transition, seemingly boosting energy security on the short-term, but compromising it on the long-run.
We argue that the case of Jordan illustrates how domestic and regional political and economic drivers may undermine efforts at energy transition, deepen established dependencies, and transform renewables’ distributed nature into concentrated forms of power. By zooming in on key entry points for energy flows into Jordan, we explore what dynamics are (re-)energised, and which ones undermined. Finally, we suggest decentralised renewables, communal ownership models, and the empowerment of marginalised municipal authorities as means to strengthen inclusive and participatory practices and overcome fossil fuel dependencies.