Green energy takes hold
It is of paramount importance that we examine the political economy of energy transitions in our current context where the energy security of the Global North trumps the human rights and sovereignty of the peoples of the South and where priorities are dictated by the people of the South. The richest and most powerful states and countries. multinationals.
Two examples of renewable energy programs in North Africa show how energy colonialism reproduces itself in the form of green colonialism – or green grabbing.
This series of articles was published in partnership with Dalia Gebrial and Harpreet Kaur Paul and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in London. It first appeared in a collection titled Perspectives on a Global Green New Deal.
The Ouarzazate Solar Plan was launched in 2016 just before the climate negotiations in Marrakech – COP22. It has been hailed as the largest solar power plant in the world and the Moroccan monarchy has been declared a champion of renewable energies.
The factory was set up on the lands of the Amazigh agro-pastoral communities without their approval and consent, a land grab for a so-called green agenda – a green grab.
Second, this mega-project is privately controlled and was built by taking on massive US $ 9 billion in debt with the World Bank, European Investment Bank and others.
This debt is backed by guarantees from the Moroccan government, which potentially means more public debt for an already overburdened country.
Third, the project is not as green as it claims. It uses concentrated thermal energy (CSP) which requires a significant use of water to cool and clean the panels.
In a semi-arid region like Ouarzazate, diverting the use of water from consumption and agriculture is scandalous.
Likewise, the Tunur Solar project in Tunisia highlights how patented green technology is extracted as residents struggle to gain access to sufficient energy to meet their basic needs.
A private company between British, Maltese and Tunisian entrepreneurs, it aims to develop low-cost distributable energy to Europe.
A familiar colonial pattern unfolds before our eyes: the limitless flow of cheap natural resources – including solar power – from the global South to the wealthy North as Fortress Europe erects walls and fences to prevent human beings – who seek a life of dignity – to reach safe shores.
Always ask the right questions: who owns what? Who does what? Who gets what? Who wins and who loses? And what interests are served?
To implement new, fair and genuinely green agreements that secure the future of people and the planet, we must pull nature out of the clutches of big business and relaunch the debate around justice, popular sovereignty of the masses and collective good.
The priority must be the energy autonomy of local communities and a radical democracy which takes precedence over the logic of a market which considers our lands and our means of subsistence as commodities to be sold to the highest bidders.
Hamza Hamouchene is the North Africa Program Coordinator at the Transnational Institute based in London, UK.