Decarbonizing the Desert: Explaining Renewable Energy Trends in the Middle East and North Africa

Kellogg Institute Graduate Research Grants
Grant Year

What explains cross-national differences in the growth of renewable energy in North Africa? While a large and growing literature examines renewable energy developments in Europe and the United States, existing academic and policy research generally overlooks trends in the Middle East and North Africa. I analyze stakeholder interviews to understand variation in North African economies’ renewable energy developments, focusing especially on the case of Morocco. The Moroccan government enacted ambitious renewable energy reforms in 2009 and is widely regarded as a leader in climate action both in the Maghreb and worldwide. However, the factors underpinning Morocco’s success represent a puzzle for scholars, especially in light of laggard climate action elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa. Ultimately, I argue that Morocco’s renewable energy transition is central to shifting dynamics among political and economic actors, as well as broader struggles over promotion of democracy and development in the country.