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Published on July 18th, 2012 | by Andrew


Morocco Stays Renewable Energy Course Amidst Arab Spring

July 18th, 2012 by  

Commitment at the Highest Level

Morocco’s government, at the highest level, is committed to following through on the broad-based initiatives related to its renewable energy / energy efficiency strategy, which was initiated in 2009 in a letter from King Mohammed VI prioritizing renewable energy and energy efficiency in the government’s energy policy while setting goals for 2020.

“There’s a strong, proactive commitment at the highest level of the state,” Mouline told CleanTechnica, noting that Morocco’s involvement with renewable energy dates back to 1982 and the second OPEC “oil shock” with the establishment of renewable energy development center.

With support from USAID, Morocco’s renewable energy sector set out to use solar panels for rural electrification and solar-powered water pumps for agriculture, efforts that ADEREE and other government agencies are expanding upon today. Renewable energy initiatives broadened out in the ’90s, Mouline continued, when Morocco started looking into developing its wind energy resources.

Working with international development agencies such as the World Bank Group, Morocco’s government is planting the seeds that it anticipates will develop into a healthy, vital, and fully fledged renewable energy and energy efficiency economic sector.

Attracting technical expertise and resources from private sector companies, both domestic and foreign, is a central piece that’s required to make this happen, Mouline said. “We have different equipment (automotive, aeronautics, …) being manufactured here in Morocco, now we’re looking for renewables. We have some incentive zones for investment in this field.”

Morocco: Renewables Today

Renewables today account for only 5% of Morocco’s energy supply, which provides a perspective that makes it more clear just how ambitious the country’s renewable energy / energy efficiency plans are, as well as the profound changes that will result as it works to achieve them.

Hydro power and wind power account for nearly all Morocco’s online renewable energy capacity at present, but that’s changing, and quickly, Mouline pointed out.

“Today, we have almost 2 GW of renewable energy online — 1.7 GW of hydro and 300 MW of wind. We plan to add 4 GW in the next eight years in order to reach 42% of electricity capacity in 2020 from renewables given a total grid demand of 13-14 GW.”

Masen, the Moroccan solar energy agency, is in the final stages of selecting the lead developer of the 500-MW Ouarzazate Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) farm, a billion-dollar project that the World Bank Group is helping bankroll to the tune of $300 million. The field of bidders has been narrowed down from 19 to three, with the award expected to be announced shortly, Mouline said.

Ouarzazate’s just the beginning for utility-scale solar power in Morocco. Masen have plans to develop five utility-scale solar power fields, a total of 2GW of new capacity. Request for proposals to design, build and maintain them will be issued, with qualified, successful bidders able to negotiate 25-30-year power purchase agreements with OED, Morocco’s national electric utility, Mousine explained.

At the same time, ADEREE is expanding plans to develop markets and local use of distributed solar PV and solar thermal systems in rural and urban areas across the country. Some 60,000 Moroccan households have solar power systems up and running at present, according to Mouline, though they are in remote areas, where average power consumption is only 100-Wp.

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About the Author

I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.

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