Energy for the masses? Exploring the political logics behind the Desertec vision

  • Delf Rothe


Desertec has become known as a label for a keen vision: the large-scale installation of solar thermal and wind-power plants in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East to power this region and Europe with clean energy. In recent years, this vision has received considerable political attention. Especially strong was the project’s resonance at the level of the European Union, which integrated the idea of a renewable energy partnership as one of six priority projects into the Union for the Mediterranean founded in 2008. This article explores the question of how and why the private initiative of a few German scientists and minor solar businesses could finally be translated into a political project taken up by the EU. Applying the logics of critical explanations framework to the case of Desertec, this article studies the discursive strategies and storylines backing this project. It qualifies the success of the Desertec vision by studying its perception in public discourses on both sides of the Mediterranean and it discusses the impact of the recent political upheavals in the region. In doing so, it charts new ground by showing the merit of a discourse-analytical approach in a policy field seemingly dominated by strong material interests, such as energy policy.


Arab spring European Union Middle East and North Africa poststructuralism renewable energy securitisation 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Delf Rothe
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, University of HamburgHamburgGermany

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