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At the crossroads: energy futures for North Africa

Mason, Michael ORCID: 0000-0002-8831-0593 and Kumetat, Dennis (2011) At the crossroads: energy futures for North Africa. Energy Policy, 39 (8). pp. 4407-4410. ISSN 0301-4215

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.enpol.2010.12.031


In their plans to move beyond heavy dependence on fossil fuel imports (Morocco and Tunisia) or to maximise export revenues from domestic oil and gas reserves (Libya, Algeria and Egypt), the North African states stand at a crossroads in terms of energy policy: interest in adopting renewable energy and/or nuclear energy presents opportunities for a strategic realignment of national development paths. Placed in the global sunbelt, rich in wind, geothermal and hydropower resources, the North African countries boast abundant potential for renewable energy production. Although a series of clean energy policy initiatives have recently been introduced in the region, renewable energy resources largely remain untapped. Current efforts to establish large-scale solar power exports to the EU – including the Mediterranean Solar Plan and the Desertec industry initiative – anticipate a substantial uptake of renewable energy in North Africa, but so far there has been only limited buy-in by Arab political regimes. At the same time, several North African states are currently seeking to obtain civil nuclear power for several reasons: to meet rapidly growing domestic energy demand, to protect exports revenues from fossil fuels, to demonstrate national technological advancement, and to increase geopolitical recognition in the face of the growing regional influence of Iran and its nuclear programme. Across North Africa, there is extensive uranium prospecting and exploration being undertaken mainly by Australian, European and Russian companies. This special issue of Energy Policy provides a platform to analyse recent trends in the North African energy systems, as well as their implications for wider energy governance, in the context of this current crossroads for strategic energy investment and development. The geographical focus is on the four North African countries of Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. Experts from various professional backgrounds address current trends and prospects for renewable and nuclear energy in North Africa, covering optimisation of market and technological options, regional energy infrastructure challenges (e.g. in terms of generation capacity, energy security and integration with European energy and carbon markets) and political-economic governance contexts. There are also in-depth insights on clean energy policy development in Algeria, Egypt and Morocco. Most of the papers in the special issue are revised versions of presentations delivered at an expert workshop – At the Crossroads: Pathways of Renewable and Nuclear Energy in North Africa – held at the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK from October 16 to 17, 2009. The workshop was convened by the LSE Energy, Water and Environment Community initiative and co-hosted with the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy. Core funding was kindly provided by the Alcoa Foundation Conservation and Sustainability Programme. Following the workshop, several additional papers were commissioned to address themes that the special issue editors regarded as necessary for a balanced, rigorous treatment of renewable and nuclear energy pathways in the region. All published papers have passed the rigorous peer-review process usual for submissions to Energy Policy. In this section, we briefly set out the current financial and political context for the interest of North African states in alternative energy futures, then summarise the key themes of the papers featured in this special issue.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2011 Elsevier
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Grantham Research Institute
Middle East Centre
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2011 11:50
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 01:15

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