Kingdom of the Sun: a critical, multiscalar analysis of Morocco's solar energy strategy

Roberto Cantoni, Karen Rignall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Over the last decade, Moroccan administrations have developed a daring energy strategy, anchored by a large increase in renewables and supported by international finance institutions. In this paper, we use a multiscalar and multidisciplinary approach to examine a core element of this energy strategy—the Moroccan Solar Plan. When analyzed for its connections to the Euro-African Desertec Project, the Solar Plan illustrates the transnational governance implications of regional energy projects, simultaneously supporting European renewable energy goals and Moroccan geopolitical aims. However, we argue that an exclusive focus on energy transition at larger geographic scales can obscure the local governance implications of large-scale renewable projects. We explore such implications by reviewing how local populations were integrated into the project's design and implementation. Thus, we employ a hybrid STS/critical geography approach to explore the parallel processes of land acquisition and technological decision-making for a solar power plant in southeastern Morocco; and to illustrate how Morocco's regional aspirations were intertwined with the territorialization goals associated with the government's political centralism. We argue that the ways in which the Moroccan government constructed the land's marginality and made technological decisions for the plant illustrate how renewable energy discourses can extend existing relations of power into new domains of governance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-31
Number of pages12
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
StatePublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the American Institute for Maghrib Studies , the National Science Foundation (Award numbers: 0920370 and 3048110665 ), and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (Award number: 0920370 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Energy governance
  • Land acquisition
  • Morocco
  • STS
  • Solar energy
  • Technopolitics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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