Rabat - Facing a shortage in natural oil resources and a high level of external energy imports (mainly from Saudi Arabia with 48 per cent), Morocco has launched new energy strategy to meet its increasingly higher demand.
Rabat – Facing a shortage in natural oil resources and a high level of external energy imports (mainly from Saudi Arabia with 48 per cent), Morocco has launched new energy strategy to meet its increasingly higher demand.
In 2009, Morocco’s energy bill was MAD 62 billion. By 2030, the country’s electricity demand is expected to be four times higher than it is today.
This is especially true because relations between Morocco and Algeria, a major hydrocarbons producer, have been strained over the past several decades because of the political problems over borders in Western Sahara. As such, energy trade between the two countries is low. In response to this, Morocco has set a large-scale national strategy on renewable energies to reduce its dependency on fossil fuel and meet its increasing level of domestic consumption.
Morocco’s renewable energy plans
In 2008, Morocco launched the National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Plan, with the aim to address its huge demand in energy. The plan, which includes solar, wind, and hydroelectric sources, is projected to reach 42 percent of total energy use by 2020. The program is seen as one of the Middle East and North Africa’s most ambitious projects to develop environment-friendly energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and combat climate change.
In 2009, Morocco launched the Moroccan Solar Plan as part of its national energy strategy to develop renewable energy. The best example of this plan is the Noor Solar Project located in Ourzazate. The plan has cost an investment of US $9 billion and is considered as one of the world’s largest solar energy projects.
Morocco’s energy strategy focuses on two major aspects: developing renewable energy and an energy-saving strategy. As mentioned above, the National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Plan aims at producing 42 percent of energy renewably and domestically. At the same time, it also aims to reduce total energy consumption by 15 percent. This energy-saving approach is being implemented by Morocco’s Renewable Energy Agency, which has initiated a number of energy efficiency programs in sectors including construction, industry and transport. These efficiency programs, with the goal of making energy consumption more efficient, are being implemented by public authorities and international actors.
Morocco’s renewable energy major projects
The DESERTEC project aims at creating a global renewable energy plan at locations in the MENA region where renewable energy sources are more abundant and transfer it to consumption centers such as Europe using high volume-voltage direct current transmission. Dii, a consortium of 55 international companies, signed a cooperation agreement with Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), public-private agency, to develop a large-scale energy project in Morocco
The Ouarzazate project is a 500MW solar plant, one of the world’s most ambitious solar projects, and North Africa’s largest energy project. The partners that have financially contributed to the project are the World Bank’s Clean Technology fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Saudi Arabia’s Akwa power, and the Spanish consortium TSK–Acciona–Sener
The project’s generated energy will be sourced locally and will help stimulate the development of Morocco’s industrial base and create jobs.
Morocco’s geopolitical renewable energy leverage in North Africa
Morocco’s level of population and economic growth is expected to continue to increase, and high levels of energy consumption are predicted, spurring it to invest more in alternative energies to keep its growth pattern high and then stimulate the development of industrial base and create jobs.
Morocco needs to focus on its infrastructure to raise productivity levels. Ports, highways, airports, urbanization, and desalination demand more energy. To meet the high demand in these sectors, more investment and more programs are needed in alternative energy.
Algeria, with its production of traditional energies such as oil and gas, has suffered from the economic crisis and the fall in oil prices. The country desperately needs to reconsider its energy strategy. However, the Algerian national energy strategy still focuses on hydrocarbons as sources of energy and income.
With the new geopolitical dynamics introduced by renewable energy, and as it continues to grow and become more commonplace in the energy world, countries’ geopolitical positions will also be altered.
Algeria, which enjoys strategic geopolitical position in the conventional energy map in North Africa, will not necessarily enjoy the same position and will be subject to some geopolitical changes in a world in which renewable energy is more important.
Morocco, with its pivotal position in renewable energy, will most likely to take the lead in North Africa if it succeeds to secure more investment for its energy programs. The European Union and some of member states seem to be the most like financiers of such programs, as the latter have already contributed to support Morocco’s energy plan. The EU, faced with Russia’s new measures to halt natural gas to some member states, and with its strategy to diversify its energy sources, will show great interest in financing Morocco’s renewable energy projects.
Edited by Timothy Filla