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Solar Energy Morocco

Published on April 4th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer

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Morocco to Solar-Power Nearly Half its Kingdom

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April 4th, 2010 by
 

And why not. The North African desert kingdom gets over 3,000 yearly hours of solid reliable sun power – every year. Nine centuries of sun have beaten down on the Kingdom of Morocco since this gate was built.

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Morocco will invest $9 billion upfront to build 2 Gigawatts of solar power, distributed between 5 solar power plants, by 2020.

The 2 GW (2,000 Megawatts) is enough to supply 40% of the nation’s electricity to 32 million souls, who apparently have fairly modest energy needs.

For example, 32 million Californians added 3,000 Megawatts last year – mostly of wind power. However, that provided a much tinier fraction of our usage.

The five plants are to be built sequentially, with the first one starting up in 2015, saving money right away, by beginning to cut Moroccan dependence on foreign oil and gas imports from nearby neighbors.

Refreshingly unlike so many of those in more oil-corrupted nations that do the bidding of the fossil lobby, Moroccan parliamentary spokesmen and women appear to not only  genuinely want “to leave green footprints in the sands of time” but even more incredibly, to be able to muster the voting majority in the kingdom’s bicameral parliament to make it happen.

Maybe they don’t have Fox News there.

Morocco’s Finance Minister Salaheddine Mezouar says that the project will send a very clear message about the need to face up to the challenges of climate change, and that this is just the beginning for the nation. He said, “Morocco is determined to protect the environment in all its future projects.”

Energy Minister Amina Benkhadra also appears undaunted.  She promises: “This is a bold but realistic project. We will guarantee all the technical and financial resources to make it succeed.”

The Moroccan government is mobilizing multiple financing sources, and partnering with the World Bank, the European Commission and Desertec to bring about this promise for a future of clean solar power.

If only our own government could be as easily moved to leave green footprints in the sands of time. Our civilization would survive. Then maybe one day we would have architecture like this ancient gate that would bear witness to the centuries and centuries of free sun power we could have utilized instead.

Image: Skyscraper City: 12th century gate to Marakesh

Source: AlternativeEnergyNews

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate, and GreenProphet. She has also been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.



  • xoussef

    In 2006 electricity consumption per capita in Morocco was 642.04 kWh, ie 19,580,000,000 kWh for the whole country. America’s for the same year was 12,924.224 kWh per capita which is 20 times over.

    If we consider a daily insolation of only 6h , a 5GW plant would produce some 10,950,000,000 kWh, that’s already 55% of 2006 figures. and if we allow for 8h daily insolation it becomes 74%..

    [SK: Thanks, xoussef, great figures]

  • DANIEL D MARTIN

    yes this will be very possible for Morroco ,which will also bring more european investment for way more potential solar energy that could be exported to Europe through undrewater cable

    by the way this will benefit the whole Mahgred region that will do much better united in an economic unity ,closely linked to its northern european community neighbors ,solving forever any ridiculous territorial claims

  • Jawad

    Van Kaas…………….go back to your history books if you have any!

  • Matthew

    The Moroccan parliament doesn’t have any real power. This is a policy being advanced by the king. Regardless, it is an intriguing foreign investment opportunity for companies that already see Morocco as a potential hub for regional trade

  • http://cleantechnica.com/author/susan Susan Kraemer

    Here’s the other factor that helps explain how 32 million could get 40% of their electricity from a 5 GW power station.

    I just remembered – reading Saar’s Ecoseed piece “sunshine on the country is over 3,000 hours per year or over 8 hours a day”.

    Since average insolation in California is only 5 – 5 and a 1/2 hours a day, getting 8 hours would boost the output of each GW of panels sited in Morocco by almost 60%! Over California!

    Just as it takes more panels to make the same power in Alaska with only 2 to 3 hours average suntime than in San Diego – Morocco is even more perfect for solar productivity than San Diego, California.

  • Dave

    @ Paul: no offence Paul, but the US does consum per capita 10 x more than most countries in the world. Renewable Energy is one thing, but energy efficiency is another thing. Google “per capita energy consumption” and look at any of the results. You don’t need to live in “tents” to have a low energy consumption.

  • http://www.ecoseed.org Saar

    Yes, I’ve heard that in November, Morocco has capitalized on sun power to produce electricity: http://www.ecoseed.org/en/green-policies/africa-a-the-middle-east/5001-Morocco-capitalizes-on-sunshine-to-generate-2-gigawatts-of-power

  • meriem

    We use electricity for lights, t.v. refrigerator and for a washing machine in the urban areas of Morocco. Most families hang clothes out to dry (do not use a clothes dryer). Most families do not have heat or furnaces and only some families use an air conditioner for cooling – maybe one or two months of the year. So if you consider that in the US, some people heat their homes for four or five months and cool them for another two or three months – the low consumption of GW makes sense to me. And by the way, we don’t live in tents.

    • http://cleantechnica.com/author/susan Susan Kraemer

      Thanks, Meriem,
      How about the Berber population? How do rural people compare with those in urban areas in terms of electricity use? Does it seem like rural electricity use could bring down that average? How much different is it? If you compare US states, Californians use half the electricity of Wyoming-ans. There can be a great deal of variability just through energy efficiency. (California has long had stringent building codes regarding energy use – Wyoming has no building codes – there’s nothing to stop builders in the state from building the way we did in the 50′s.)

  • Mohammad Yamin

    I salute the Moroccan Government for taking decision to harness Solar Energy to meet atleast 40% of their power requirement. Other countries in the region including Pakistan should take lesson from this initiative and benefit from the free gift of energy offerred by the shinning sun. We must think green if we don’t wish harmfull climate change.

  • http://vankaas.blogspot.com van kaas

    Morocco illegally annexed 4/5 of it’s southern neighbour called Western Sahara and they have build a military berm of about 1500 mile in the deserted area to defend their theft. The Moroccan plan for solarpower is a way to make western companies complicit. This is not about sustainability of the environment but of their military occupation.

    The Western Sahara surely knows “green footprints” as these were left, together with millions of landmines, during the Green March, the Islamic inspired war against the original people of the land who are called the Saharawi.

    The exploitation of natural resources of an occupied territory like fish, oil or sunlight is a breach of international law.

    See also http://www.wsrw.org

  • Paul

    Those numbers don’t sound right to me. They’re suggesting 32 Million people only consume 5 GW? They must all be living in tents.

    The US consumes 474 GW for 302 Million (2007). That’s 1.5 GW per million. At that rate Morocco would consume 48 GW, close to 10x what they’re claiming.

    • http://cleantechnica.com/author/susan Susan Kraemer

      @Paul; I noticed that was low, too. But when you remember that the US is far more profligate even than Europe which uses half the kwh that we do, – it is possible that – with a lot of tents, Morocco is in that range.

  • http://vankaas.blogspot.com van kaas

    Morocco illegally annexed 4/5 of Western Sahara and they have build a military berm of about 1500 mile in the deserted area to defend their theft. The Moroccan plan for solarpower is a way to make western companies complicit. This is not about sustainability of the environment but of their occupation.

    The Western Sahara surely knows “green footprints” as these were left, together with millions of landmines, during the Green March, the Islamic inspired war against the original people of the land who are called the Saharawi.

    The exploitation of natural resources of an occupied territory is a breach of international law.

    See also http://www.wsrw.org

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