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The Socio-Economic Effects of Solar Energy in the Middle East and North Africa

Schütze, Dr. Benjamin (2021): The Socio-Economic Effects of Solar Energy in the Middle East and North Africa. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Nr. Climate & Energy Project MENA, Amman, Jordan.
This report discusses the socio-economic effects of solar energy in the Middle East and North Africa. It provides an overview over select literature on the energy-politics nexus and then discusses some of the ways in which different technologies and infrastructures, modes of financing, and forms of knowledge mediate solar energy’s socio-economic effects. Finally, it presents select empirical snapshots, in order to demonstrate solar energy’s context-dependence. While solar energy, in particular decentralized solar energy, holds a certain emancipatory potential, projects are always embedded into pre-existing structures of power. In an attempt to conceptualize energy in terms of relationality, it argues that solar energy’s effects differ depending on categories of class, gender and race, as well as depending on the socio-economic structures within which projects are pursued. A multiplicity of different (solar) energy futures is possible, as attempts at a transition to renewables are highly contested and constitute an arena on which wider social, economic and political struggles are played out. The gradual transition from fossil fuels to solar, hydro and wind offers an unprecedented opportunity to challenge and overcome authoritarian practices and concentrated energy politics. However, transregionally entangled authoritarian elites from within and beyond the region forcefully resist the promotion and production of renewable energies altogether, or push for it in ways that merely renew authoritarian power. To resist such dynamics and shape attempts at a renewable energy transition in an as participatory, inclusive and sustainable manner as possible, it is of crucial importance to gain more insight into solar energy’s context-dependent effects on entrenched authoritarian and/or democratic practices.
Date of publication:
Forschungsbereich: Contested Governance
Language: English
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