Media representations of the Solar Mediterranean Plan: a techno-political controversy

In the last few years, the debate about renewable energy, particularly solar energy, has overflowed the terrains of engineers and scientists to involve wider publics, such as politicians et enterprises, mostly attracted by the increasing funds allocated to such sector, and citizens, facing the menace of climate change.
One exemplar case is the communication about the Mediterranean Solar Plan, one of the main contemporary challenges in the Mediterranean area, that combines both the political issues related to the development of the Union for the Mediterranean (relationship between Germany and France, the interests of North and South…) and the technical issues related to industrial projects as Desertec and Medgrid (photovoltaic or thermal concentration, transport infrastructure or on-site technology…). The Mediterranean Solar Plan (MSP) was endorsed at the Paris Summit on 13-14 July 2008. The MSP is expected to develop 20 GW in the MENA Region in order to satisfy the increasing energy demand. Additionally, it should support an integrated renewable market for the EU-MED region.

This communication aims at analysing the representations of the MSP in French media, by identifying the controversial issues, by focusing on how they are presented by different media and by comparing media discourse with the official communication about the project.

Communication presented at the PCST 2012 (Public communication of science and technology Conference) in Florence (18-20 April 2012)

Two corpora of media data have been analysed:

1. Representation in French newspapers

• Goal: Identifying representations of MSP conveyed by the press

• Corpus: 97 articles (Europresse)
– 14 national mainstream journals
– 36 regional journals

• Period: 18 months (October 2009 – March 2012)

• Keywords: “plan solaire méditerranéen” OR “desertec” OR “transgreen” OR “medgrid”


2. Representation in the French blogosphere

•Goal: Identifying debated issues in the blogosphere

• Corpus: 269 webpages (Linkscape)
– 2210 websites of the “agora” community
– 1399 websites of the “politics” community

• Period: 18 months (October 2009 – March 2012)

• Keywords: “plan solaire méditerranéen” OR “desertec” OR “transgreen” OR “medgrid”

Contact me for more information.