Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries have to find answers to address the increasing demand for energy, whilst simultaneously tackling the challenges of socio-economic development, climate change and political transformation. An important prerequisite for overcoming these challenges is the deployment of new electricity infrastructures. In this regard, most MENA countries stand at a crossroads for new electricity policies: although the scale-up of renewable energies is currently receiving policy support, fossil (coal, gas and oil) and nuclear power are two prominent alternatives in the region’s national development plans.
Identifying the optimal electricity pathway that (i) would be cost-effective, (ii) would support multiple development objectives and (iii) is conflict-sensitive at the same time, is a complex task and depends on various context specifics. Despite numerous macro-level studies there is high uncertainty how investments into different electricity pathways will interact with social, economic, political and environmental dimensions at multiple scales. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring it is a particularly important to frame national electricity policies in such a way that they incorporate societal demands, and thus avoid further political destabilization. Against this background, the proposed research project intends to understand how different electricity pathways can contribute to sustainable development in the MENA region.
With the overall objective of contributing to the advancement of renewable energy in MENA countries, the project aims to improve the understanding of the complex relationships between different electricity pathways and sustainable development in three selected MENA countries: Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia. By exploring the economic, social, political and environmental effects of different electricity pathways leading up to 2050 on the national and the local level, the project will apply an integrated approach. In this regard the project goes beyond previous assessments that tended to focus on either singular aspects of sustainable development or specific technologies and covered pathways up to 2020 or 2030.