[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.

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