Dynamics, tensions, resistance in solar energy development in Tunisia
Energy Research & Social Science
236 - 244 p.
Energy transition, Decentralized solar energy, Water heating system, Policy instrument, Tunisia
This article takes a critical look at the management of energy transition, showing that the instrumental approach often favoured in public action is hampered not only by divergent interests, but also by the unexpected effects arising from the implementation of this policy and its instruments. It uses Tunisia as a case study by focusing on two instruments (Prosol and Prosol Elec) designed to foster the development of decentralized solar technologies (water heating systems and photovoltaic panels) at the households and small firm level. The success of these instruments in triggering commercial development of these technologies resulted in unexpected effects on intermediary actors, the devices installers, affected by the clogging of the subsidy schemes. These actors implemented several adaptation strategies, such as bypassing or exiting the instrument and politicising the debates around it, leading to several adjustments. The study shows that instruments are the product of a specific local milieu structured by power relations and material traits. It acknowledges that local resistances should not be reduced to orientalist understandings, and stresses the need to go beyond management-focused approaches of energy policies, in order to make way for unexpected transformation processes.