Greening Electricity Governance in the MENA region: Mapping the Role, Drivers and Impacts of Renewable Energies Agencies

Alessandro Rubino (Università degli studi di Bari Aldo MOro)
Andrea Prontera (University of Macerata)

Abstract

Since the early 2000s virtually all the countries in the MENA region have set ambitious targets for renewables energy generation, launching impressive investment plans for promoting their deployment and implementing specific supporting schemes, such as feed-in tariffs, net metering and tendering procedures. Despite the enormous regional potential – especially in the solar and wind sector – the practical results of these policy and regulatory efforts have often been disappointing. However, these efforts have been paralleled by the establishment, or upgrading, of specialised renewable energies agencies, that contributed to transforming the patterns of electricity governance in several countries. Against this background, this paper has two main goals. First, it offers a mapping of the emergent governance modes for greening electricity governance in the MENA region by looking at the role that renewable energies agencies play in different countries as well as at their interactions with other relevant sectoral actors, such as Ministries, former incumbent companies and IRAs. Renewable energies agencies’ role can vary from mere policy advising and information (e.g. Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia), to a more prominent stance in electricity governance through project development and/or endowed with (pseudo)regulatory functions (e.g. Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and UAE). In these latter cases, the establishment of renewable energies agencies can result in a further centralization of electricity governance in the hands of governing elites (e.g. Morocco, UAE), favour decentralization with the empowering of new bureaucratic and social actors (e.g. Tunisia), or trigger conflicts that undermine renewables development (e.g. Algeria). Secondly, the paper, evaluates the outcome of these efforts and explains these divergent national patterns for greening electricity governance by looking at the interaction between domestic and international factors. These include variations in political regimes, path-dependencies related to the original set up for electricity governance as well as pressures and incentives coming from external actors and development banks.

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