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.

part I|134 pages

Large-scale energy system transformations

chapter 1|28 pages


Visions for sustainable energy transformations

chapter 3|30 pages

The critical geopolitics of renewable energy and spatial energy justice

Envisioning the Mediterranean, perceiving Desertec

chapter 4|41 pages

The life cycle of a vision

Desertec system designs

part II|115 pages

Nation-state visions for just and socially sustainable energy development

chapter 6|23 pages

Neocolonial or not?

Evaluating North-South-South partnership on electricity integration

chapter 7|26 pages

Socially sustainable solar power development

From national dreams to local outcomes

chapter 8|21 pages


Energy justice and security in visions of multi-scalar systems