Renewable energy in Morocco
Renewable energy in Morocco represented 0.4% of the national energy balance (excluding biomass) and nearly 10% of electricity production in 2007. Supported by strong hydropower sources and the newly installed wind energy parks (147 MW installed and 975 MW under deployment). Morocco plans a $13 billion expansion of wind, solar and hydroelectric power generation capacity and associated infrastructure that should see the country get 42% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. The Moroccan government is keen on increasing renewable energy production, as Morocco's January–September oil bill reached about USD 1.4 billion in subsidies in 2009, registering a fall of 57.9% compared to 2008.
Despite huge wind and solar potential, it is too early to say when Morocco could begin exporting renewable electricity to Europe. from projects such as the $400 billion Desertec initiative. It is unclear whether the Desertec consortium's planned investment in solar thermal energy across North Africa could go into Morocco or how much power could eventually be exported to Europe, she said. Desertec's plans are likely to need several years more of feasibility studies.
Renewable energy plays a key role in ONE's $3.4 billion energy development plan, announced in January 2004. The goal is to provide 80 percent of rural areas with electricity by 2008, while increasing the share of renewable energy from 0.24 percent in 2003 to 10 percent in 2011. The plan calls for two new wind projects, as well as a 200 - 250-MW thermo-solar facility in d’Ain Beni Mathar, of which 30 MW will be generated from solar power. One of the wind power facilities (60 MW) will be located in Essaouira, while the other (140 MW) will be located near Tangiers. The Essaouira facility is scheduled to come on-line in 2007.
Morocco has additional renewable resources that could be developed, which the countries four perennial rivers and many dams with hydroelectric potential. In May 2005, ONE selected Temsol for a $27.6 million project to supply solar power to 37,000 rural homes by 2007. Similar contracts were awarded in May 2002 to a consortium led by Total Energie and in January 2004 to Apex-BP. Currently, only 55 percent of outlying villages have access to electricity.
Alstom, a French company building a high speed rail link between Tangier and Casablanca, will also build power generation facilities with a capacity of 470 megawatts to energize the rail link. While most of the capacity will come from standard gas combined cycle combustion, 20 megawatts will be from solar power.
In recent years, most efforts have gone into the development of wind energy, which currently accounts for 150 MW of installed capacity and is expected to reach 1554 MW by 2012. The Tangier wind farm, which will be Morocco's largest, entered construction in 2009 and is expected to go on-line in 2010. The country's wind potential has been estimated at around 6000 MW a year, but its realisation would require billions of euros in investment.
In November 2009 Morocco announced it will install 2 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2020. Morocco has launched one of the world’s largest solar energy projects costing an estimated $9 billion. The aim of the project is to generate 2,000 megawatts of solar generation capacity by the year 2020. Five solar power stations are to be constructed. The Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), a public-private venture, has been established to lead the project. MASEN has invited expressions of interest in the design, construction, operation, maintenance and financing of the first of the five planned solar power stations, the 500-megawatt plant in the southern town of Ouarzazate. The first plant will be commissioned in 2014, and the entire project in 2019. Once completed, the solar project will provide 18% of Morocco’s annual electricity generation.
In November 2009 Morocco announced a solar energy project worth $9 billion which officials said will account for 38 percent of the North African country's installed power generation by 2020. Funding would be from a mix of private and state capital. The ceremony was attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Moroccan king. The project will involve five solar power generation sites across Morocco and will produce 2,000 megawatts of electricity by 2020. The project would add in terms of power generation the equivalent of the current electricity consumption of the country's commercial capital Casablanca. Germany has expressed its willingness to participate in the development of Morocco's solar energy project which the country has decided to carry out, as did the World Bank. Germany will also take part in the development of a water-desalination plant.
A net energy importer, Morocco launched the National Renewable Energy and Efficiency Plan in February 2008 to develop alternative energy to meet 15% of its domestic needs and increase the use of energy-saving methods. The plan is expected to create more than 40,000 jobs and stimulate over €4.5bn in investment by 2020. The National Plan for the Development of Solar Thermal Energy, formulated in 2001, aims to install 440,000 solar-powered water heaters by 2012, of which 235,000 are completed. The Moroccan government plans to produce 40% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
In 2008 Morocco announced plans for a new campus providing knowledge-based services to strengthen research and training in clean technology. The campus is part of a US$219 million clean energy industrial park being built in the eastern city of Oujda to support private sector investment as well as renewable energy companies. Building is underway, and the campus is expected to open by 2010.
Many initiatives are dedicated to renewable energy such as solar power plants, pumping stations, hydraulic turbines, waste recycling, water pumps, sea water desalination, air conditioning and solar water heaters. RE is also the focus of many economic and social programs, as in the case of rural electrification, where individual photovoltaic solar systems account for 7% of energy production.
Energy sources are significant. Forecasts estimate wind energy potential at 6 GW, the solar heater market at 1M m2, and highlight strong potential for biomass enhancement (9 million hectares of wooded areas). The expectations in this field are high among institutional stakeholders, economic players and also consumers. There are four main obstacles to incentives and institutional approaches: regulations are lacking, there is no dedicated agency, renewable energy and energy efficiency are low priorities for national development programs dedicated to raising awareness and to ensuring sustainable demand in RE and energy efficiency technologies and services, and taxation does not provide attractive market conditions.
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