Renewable Energy in Morocco
Morocco is the only North African country with no natural oil resources and is the largest energy importer in the region with 96 per cent of its energy needs being sourced externally. The leading supplier of Morocco’s energy requirements is Saudi Arabia at 48 per cent. By 2009 Morocco’s energy bill had reached MAD62 billion (approximately US$7.3 billion) and electricity demand in the country is projected to quadruple by 2030.
However, in the absence of a proven specific industrial process that can produce oil and gas from this unconventional source, Morocco has turned to implementing a number of strategies (the National Renewable Energy and Efficiency Plan, in February 2008) to develop alternative energy and gives priority to developing renewable energy and sustainable development.
The major sources of alternative energy in Morocco are solar and wind. Wind energy potential is excellent in vast parts in the northern and southern regions, with the annual average wind speed exceeding 9 m/s at 40 meters elevation. As far as solar is concerned, the country experiences 3000 hours per year of annual sunshine equivalent to 5.3 kWh/m²/day. In Morocco, the total installed renewable energy capacity (excluding hydropower) was approximately 787MW at the end of year 2015. The Moroccan Government has set up an ambitious target of meeting 42% of its energy requirements using renewable resources (2GW solar and 2GW wind) by 2020. Morocco is investing more than USD13 billion in developing its renewable energy sector, which will reduce its dependence on imported energy carriers to a great extent.
a. Morocco Solar Program
In November 2009, Morocco has launched one of the world’s largest and most ambitious solar energy plan with investment of USD 9billion. The Moroccan Solar Plan is regarded as a milestone on the country’s path towards a secure andsustainable energy supply which is clean, green and affordable. The aim of the plan is to generate 2,000 megawatts (or 2 gigawatts) of solar power by the year 2020 by building mega-scale solar power projects at five location — Laayoune, Boujdour,Tarfaya, Ain Beni Mathar and Ouarzazate — with modern solar thermal, photovoltaic and concentrated solar powermechanisms. Morocco, the only African country to have a power cable link to Europe, is also a key player in Mediterranean Solar Plan and Desertec Industrial Initiative.
Construction is underway at the 500MW Solar Power Complex at Ouarzazate, the world’s largest solar power plant. To be built with investment of an estimated Euros 2.3 billion, the project is the first one to be implemented under the Moroccan Solar Plan. The Ouarzazate Solar Complex, also known as Noor CSP with a total capacity of 580 MW will produce an estimated output of 1.2 TWh/year to meet power demand of more than 1 million populations when it is completed in 2018. The first phase of Ouarzazate solar project, known as Noor 1 CSP, is a 160-MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant which has switched on in Febrary 2016. Around $3.9bn has been invested in the Ouarzazate solar complex, including $1bn from the German investment bank KfW, $596m from the European Investment Bank and $400m from the World Bank.
The Ain Beni Mather Integrated Solar Thermal Combined Cycle Power Station, commissioned in 2011, is one of the most promising solar power projects in Africa. The plant combines solar power and thermal power, and has the production capacity of 472 MWe. The total cost of the project was US$544 million including US$43.2 million in grant financing from the GEF, two loans from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for a total of US$371.8 million and a loan of US$ 129 million from Spain’s Instituto de Credito Official (ICO).
In 2010, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN) a public-private venture, was set up specifically to implement these projects. Its mandate is to implement the overall project and to coordinate and to supervise other activities related to this initiative. Stakeholders of the Agency include the Hassan II Fund For Economic & Social Development, Energetic Investment Company and the Office National de l’Electricité (ONE). The Solar Plan is backed by Germany, with funding being provided by German Environment Ministry (BMU) and KfW Entwicklungsbank while GIZ is engaged in skills and capacity-building for industry.
b. Morocco Wind Program
Morocco has huge wind energy potential due to it 3,500 km coast line and average wind speeds between 6 and 11 m/s. Regions near the Atlantic coast, such as Essaouira, Tangier and Tetouan (with average annual average wind speeds between 9.5 and 11 m/s at 40 metres) and Tarfaya, Laayoune, Dakhla, and Taza (with annual average wind speed between 7.5 and 9.5 m/s at 40 metres) has excellent wind power potential. The total potential for wind power in Morocco is estimated at around 7,936 TWh per year, which would be equivalent to about 2,600 GW. Morocco’s total installed wind power capacity at the end of 2015 was an impressive 787MW.
The first wind farm in Morocco was installed in 2000 with a capacity of 50.4 MW in El Koudia El Baida (Tlat Taghramt – Province of Tetouan), situated 17km from the town of Fnidek. The annual production of the project is around 200 GWh, accounting for 1% of the national annual electricity consumption. In 2007, 60MW Amogdoul wind farm, on Cap Sim south of Essaouira, came online. This wind farm was realized by the national utility ONE and is producing around 210 GWh/year. Another landmark project is 140 MW at Allak, El Haoud and Beni Mejmel, near Tangier and Tetouan which was commissioned in 2010 with annual production of 526 GWh per annum.
Morocco has a strong pipeline of wind power projects to realize its objective of 2GW of wind power by 2020. Africa’s largest windfarm, at Tarfaya in Southwestern Morocco, having installed capacity of 300MW become operational in 2014. TheTarfaya windfarm, built at a cost of around $700 million has 131 turbines will meet the power requirements of several hundred thousand people and will reduce 900,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.