Bastamag: Des centrales solaires géantes au Sahara : solution au changement climatique ou néocolonialisme déguisé ?


Le méga projet Desertec consiste à approvisionner toute l’Europe en électricité produite par des centrales solaires au Sahara. Lancé par des grandes entreprises allemandes, le projet semble pour l’instant au point mort. La construction de plusieurs autres centrales solaires d’envergure sont cependant encore à l’ordre du jour en Afrique du Nord, en dépit des préoccupations locales. Dans cet article, Hamza Hamouchene se penche sur les conséquences géopolitiques de tels projets, et se demande dans quelle mesure, et à quelles conditions, l’énergie solaire du désert peut réellement jouer un rôle dans un avenir démocratique et durable des deux côtés de la Méditerranée.

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New Internationalist: Desertec: the renewable energy grab?

A plan to power Europe from Saharan solar plants seems to have stalled, but several large North African solar projects are still going ahead despite local concerns. Hamza Hamouchene asks: where did the Desertec project go wrong, and can desert solar power yet play a role in a democratic and sustainable future?

Solar panels [Related Image]
The Ivanpah solar concentrating power station in California. Coming soon to the Sahara? © Ashley Cooper pics / Alamy   

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Le Renforcement Des Dictatures – Accaparement du gaz par le Royaume-Uni et les violations des droits humains en Algérie

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BP a signé sa première joint-venture en Algérie en 1995, trois ans seulement après le coup d’état militaire qui a annulé les premières élections législatives en Algérie depuis l’indépendance du joug colonial français. Le contrat a été signé alors qu’une guerre civile brutale faisait rage, avec la violence systématique de l’État et des islamistes fondamentalistes.

Cette signature a définie l’engagement de BP et du gouvernement britannique avec l’Algérie au cours des 20 dernières années. Il continue à façonner le contexte actuel de torture et d’impunité, de répression et de corruption. Leur empressement à pénétrer en Algérie dans les années 90, malgré la violente répression édictée par l’État, indique les priorités de l’establishment britannique. Le Royaume-Uni a favorisé ses propres intérêts économiques et a consenti à la «sale guerre» des années 1990 du régime algérien. La même approche a été suivie depuis. Continue reading

Guardian: Activists accuse Britain of ‘gas grab’ in Algeria despite human rights abuses

Protesters plan to target investor conference at London Stock Exchange on Monday

By Terry Macalister
Sunday 9 February 2014 15.35 GMT Last modified on Tuesday 3 June 2014 06.31 BST

London-Stock-Exchange-012The London Stock Exchange, where demonstrators plan to target a meeting supported by UKTI and the Algerian embassy. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Campaigners who claim Britain is engaged in a “gas grab” in Algeria at the expense of its commitment to human rights and climate change will protest at an investor conference at the London Stock Exchange on Monday morning.

A demonstrations will take place outside the meeting taking place in Paternoster Square from 8.30am to 9.30am, which is supported by the government’s UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) arm and the Algerian embassy. It comes as a highly critical report, Reinforcing Dictatorships: Britain’s Gas Grab and Human Rights Abuses in Algeria, is published.

Although Britain’s foreign affairs experts have tried to learn lessons from the Arab spring about the risks of building links to autocrats such as Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, the UKTI is continuing “business as usual”, say the critics.

“The Algerian regime, lacking in popular legitimacy, is seeking to deepen its relations with western capitals such as London. Arms and gas deals being made at this investor conference in London directly contribute to the longevity of an authoritarian and repressive regime at the expense of the human rights of the Algerian people,” said Hamza Hamouchene, the report’s author and chair of the Algeria Solidarity Campaign, which has been working alongside the London-based oil and gas watchdog Platform.

Algeria has some of the largest natural gas reserves in Africa and is already an important supplier of energy to the UK via liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipped to import terminals such as the Isle of Grain in Kent.

A recent briefing from the UKTI Defence and Security Organisation said Algeria could provide as much as 10% of the UK’s gas needs through the newly expanded terminal in the south of England.

Platform says documents it has obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the British government is engaged in a high-level push to strengthen energy ties with Algeria.

Partly as a result of the takeover of the US oil firms Amoco and Arco in 1998 and 2000 respectively, BP is one of the largest foreign investors in Algeria, with two operating fields and assets estimated to be worth about $5bn. BG also has interests there as the operator of the Hassi Ba Hamou permit.

Of the £303m worth of UK export licences to Algeria approved between 2008 and June 2013, £290m worth were classified as “military”, according to research carried out by the Campaign Against Arms Trade group. In a separate 2013 briefing produced by Amnesty International, the Algerian authorities were accused of restricting freedom of expression, dispersing demonstrations and harassing human rights defenders.

On Sunday the British government defended the investor conference and the UKTI activities, but said human rights was one of the subjects under discussion between the two countries.

“We are encouraged by the improvement Algeria has made on this area in recent years, including lifting the state of emergency in 2011 that restricted freedom of expression and protest, signing the UK’s preventing sexual violence initiative charter and taking a seat on the UN human rights council,” said a spokesman, who also defended Britain’s interest in Algerian gas.

“The UK’s energy security strategy demonstrates our commitment to a transition to a low-carbon energy mix. However, by 2035 global oil demand, although reduced, will still exceed production from existing sources, and global gas demand will have risen.

“The International Energy Agency confirms that efforts to promote investment in gas production globally will have a positive impact on climate change by displacing coal-fired power generation.”

Meanwhile BP also argued that its involvement in Algeria was positive for both countries. “We are producing natural resources for the benefit of that country under local mineral rights and the gas we produce there goes into the local grid,” said a spokesman for the oil company in London. Some Algerian LNG is bought by BP as part of its trading activities but this would help with global warming rather than make it worse, he added: “Using gas instead of oil or coal is a way of reducing carbon emissions.”

The Algerian embassy was unavailable for comment. Kevin Smith from Platform reiterated his organisation’s view that Britain’s “dash for gas” was not only a disaster for the climate but for democratic rights. He said: “UK foreign policy seems to be almost entirely driven by the agenda of securing access to dirty fossil fuels abroad while turning a blind eye to human rights abuses of the regimes they are willing to do business with.”

Reinforcing Dictatorships – Britain’s Gas Grab and Human Rights Abuses in Algeria

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algeria-briefing-cover-620x876BP signed its first joint venture in Algeria in 1995, only three years after the military coup that cancelled the first multi-party legislative elections in Algeria since independence from French colonial rule. The contract was signed while a brutal civil war was raging, with systematic violence from both the state and Islamist fundamentalists.

This signature has framed both the British government’s and BP’s engagement with Algeria over the past 20 years. It continues to shape the current context of torture and impunity, repression and corruption. Their eagerness to break into Algeria in the 1990s, despite the violent crackdown being enacted by the state, indicates the priorities of the British establishment. The UK favoured its own economic interests and acquiesced to the Algerian regime’s ‘Dirty War’ of the 1990s. The same approach has continued ever since. Continue reading