[new publication] Governing Hybridized Electricity Systems: The Case of Decentralized Electricity in Lebanon

Chaplain A. et Verdeil É., 2022, Governing Hybridized Electricity Systems: The Case of Decentralized Electricity in Lebanon, Journal of Urban Technology, ahead of print, https://doi.org/10.1080/10630732.2022.2105587

Policymakers see decentralized electricity supply as a way to both decarbonize energy systems and to fill the gap of electricity access in many countries where strong growth leave the grid lagging behind. This article sheds some light on the case of countries such as Lebanon, where diesel-fueled decentralized electricity systems have existed for years and increasingly coexist with, rather than being replaced by, solar powered systems. It is based on a synthesis of public quantitative data and qualitative information gathered through surveys. The article argues that understanding such dynamics involves an analysis, not only of the technological and socioeconomic determinants of the adoption of decentralized energy technologies but also of the political struggles between the various actors, with a particular focus on corporate actors, and wealthy users. In addition, the article shows how different political temporalities play in reproducing or opening the assemblage of technologies and interests that shape the hybridized energy landscape. The article also shows that hybridization has repercussions on the energy configuration as a whole, both in the evolving market share of each technology but also by deeply fragmenting the access to electricity along social and territorial lines and by pushing essential private actors to disconnect from the grid. As a conclusion, the promises of sustainable transitions need to be critically examined in light of these trends.

[New publication] Securitisation of urban electricity supply. A political ecology perspective on the cases of Jordan and Lebanon, by Eric Verdeil

Generator owned by the private company Electricity of Jbeil

Éric Verdeil. Securitisation of urban electricity supply A political ecology perspective on the cases of Jordan and Lebanon Eric Verdeil. Haim Yacobi; Mansour Nasasra. Routledge Handbook on Middle Eastern Cities, Routledge, pp.246-264, 2019. Online : halshs-02176158

Abstract: Questions about urban infrastructure, resilience, and violence are central to current urban general literature since infrastructures function as locations of conflict and negotiation over the public good, inclusion and exclusion, and mobility in the city. This chapter develops a theoretical framework to analyse the emergence of new concerns for urban energy security in the cities of Amman (Jordan) and Jbeil and Zahleh (Lebanon). Supplying these cities with electricity requires creating new circuits that are both material and sociopolitical. In Amman, one of the projects proposed for coping with the projected growth of energy demand was to build a nuclear plant in the “desert” close to Amman. This project, allegedly in the final studies stage at the time of completing the chapter, has experienced many episodes and delays. Analysis shows the pressure of urban energy demand and the resizing of metabolic circuits at the level of the metropolis of Amman, while the governance of these circuits remains state-driven despite popular protests. In Jbeil and Zahleh, in the face of regular and long-lasting power cuts, local capitalist actors have taken the lead to provide an alternative electricity supply that replaces both the national grid and informal generators that are in use elsewhere in the country. At first glance, both situations seem very different in scale and in the type of actors involved. But in both cases, these new circuits are heavily contested and redistribute agencies of power in ways that empower some actors but that, at the same time, erode solidarity at the city and the national levels.

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