Sustainable Energy Transformations, Power and Politics: Morocco and the Mediterranean, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Sustainable Energy Transformations, Power and Politics

Morocco and the Mediterranean, 1st Edition

By Sharlissa Moore


260 pages | 17 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2018-08-17
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This book analyses energy transitions and the opportunities and challenges for building sustainable energy systems to improve human capabilities while protecting the environment.

Sufficient and secure energy supply is critical to human thriving and socioeconomic development. Yet energy systems are also implicated in the most pressing socio-environmental challenges of our time - climate change, air pollution, and water and land use. This book examines what is arguably the most ambitious vision for a renewable energy based system worldwide. This vision, often called Desertec, is for a regional electricity system supplying North Africa, Europe, and the Middle East with sustainable and affordable power. The behemoth plan would entail building dozens of large-scale solar and wind power plants mostly in North Africa, interconnecting the fragmented transmission infrastructure of 38 Mediterranean countries, and linking North Africa to the European Union (EU) through undersea transmission cables. Within the Mediterranean, the book focuses on Morocco, which is one of the most advanced developing countries in renewable energy scale-up, to understand its motivations for building renewable energy and the effects on sustainable development. The book therefore takes a unique multi-scalar approach to understanding the social and political aspects of energy transitions, weaving together the views of villagers living near Morocco’s first solar energy zone with the perspectives of national decision-makers in Morocco with the views of European policymakers and major transnational energy companies in the Mediterranean region.

This book will be of great interest to students, scholars and policymakers interested in energy transitions, sustainable and renewable energy, Mediterranean politics, sustainable development and environment and sustainability more generally.


"Sharlissa Moore’s highly readable account of renewable energy transformations at the intersection of Europe and North Africa provides new insights into this rapidly changing and resource-rich region. Equally important, it synthesizes the very latest in multidisciplinary approaches to energy transitions within the complex socio-technical systems that surround and enable our lives."-- Adam Reed, Education Director, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute, University of Colorado Boulder, USA

"Many turn to renewable energy because of climate change and other reasons. Energy, however, is more than clever engineering. Politics, economics, ethics, and justice interweave with technology—locally, nationally, and internationally. Concentrating solar power projects to produce electricity in Morocco illustrate these challenges in this path-breaking analysis, a must read." -- John H Perkins, Member of the Faculty Emeritus, The Evergreen State College, USA

"In an engaging narrative style, Moore has created an important sociotechnical study of Morocco’s push for renewable energy, dispelling for once the notion that energy is just about science and technology. This rich case study provides insights into issues of power and justice relevant for other regions of the world." -- Mary Jane Parmentier, Clinical Associate Professor, School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Arizona State University, USA

"Sharlissa Moore skillfully shows how the imbalances of power in the formation of a collective vision of energy systems stubbornly replicate themselves as imagination turns into design, implementation and social outcomes. An important contribution to the scholarship of Science and Technology Studies and essential reading for everyone involved in managing and shaping energy systems. This study, empirically centered in Morocco, offers a more general lesson: that sustainability is not merely determined by technological possibility or the economics of energy production, but also by more subtle forces such as those determining whose voice is amplified or muted when we imagine our shared energy future." -- Walter D. Valdivia, George Mason University, USA

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables


List of abbreviations


Large-scale energy system transformations

  1. Introduction: Visions for sustainable energy transformations
  2. The history of concentrating solar power and large-scale engineering projects for the Mediterranean
  3. The critical geopolitics of renewable energy and spatial energy justice: Envisioning the Mediterranean, perceiving Desertec
  4. The life cycle of a vision: Desertec system designs
  5. PART II

    Nation-state visions for just and socially sustainable energy development

  6. The social pillar of sustainable development in Morocco’s solar imaginary
  7. Neocolonial or not? Evaluating North-South-South partnership on electricity integration
  8. Socially sustainable solar power development: From national dreams to local outcomes
  9. Conclusion: Energy justice and security in visions of multi-scalar systems


About the Author

Sharlissa Moore is an Assistant Professor of International Energy Policy, jointly appointed between the International Relations fields in James Madison College and the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at Michigan State University, USA.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Energy Transitions

Considerable interest exists today in energy transitions. Whether one looks at diverse efforts to decarbonize, or strategies to improve the access levels, security and innovation in energy systems, one finds that change in energy systems is a prime priority.

Routledge Studies in Energy Transitions aims to advance the thinking which underlies these efforts. The series connects distinct lines of inquiry from planning and policy, engineering and the natural sciences, history of technology, STS, and management. In doing so, it provides primary references that function like a set of international, technical meetings. Single and co-authored monographs are welcome, as well as edited volumes relating to themes, like resilience and system risk.

Key focus areas: Technology change and fuel substitution, centralized-decentralized shifts, new business models and market redesign, innovation systems, governance levers/approaches or economics in transitions, etc. Writing on different types of energy transitions is encouraged. 

Dr. Kathleen Araújo is the Director of the Energy Policy Institute with the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, a consortium of public universities, Idaho National Laboratory, and industry. She is also an Associate Professor in the School of Public Service at Boise State University, where she specializes in policy and innovation systems associated with energy transitions and industrial development.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal for this series, please contact Annabelle Harris, Editor for Environment and Sustainability: [email protected]

Series Advisory Board

Morgan Bazilian, Columbia University, Center for Global Energy Policy (US)

Thomas Birkland, North Carolina State University (US)

Aleh Cherp, Central European University (CEU, Budapest) and Lund University

Mohamed El-Ashry, UN Foundation

Jose Goldemberg, Universidade de Sao Paolo (Brasil) and UN Development Program, World Energy Assessment

Michael Howlett, Simon Fraser University (Canada)

Jon Ingimarsson, Landsvirkjun, National Power Company (Iceland)

Michael Jefferson, ESCP Europe Business School

Jessica Jewell, IIASA (Austria)

Florian Kern, University of Sussex, Science Policy Research Unit and Sussex Energy Group (United Kingdom)

Derk Loorbach, DRIFT (Netherlands)

Jochen Markard, ETH (Switzerland)

Nabojsa Nakicenovic, IIASA (Austria)

Martin Pasqualetti, Arizona State University, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning (US)

Mark Radka, UN Environment Programme, Energy, Climate, and Technology

Rob Raven, Utrecht University (Netherlands)

Roberto Schaeffer, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Energy Planning Program, COPPE (Brasil)

Miranda Schreurs, Technische Universität Mūnchen, Bavarian School of Public Policy (Germany)

Vaclav Smil, University of Manitoba and Royal Society of Canada (Canada)

Benjamin Sovacool, Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex, UK

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy
SCIENCE / Energy
SCIENCE / Environmental Science