Although many business activities stopped during the lockdown, industry insiders are spending time on improving their skills and products.
Rabat – The renewable energy sector, just like many other industries, has suffered under the COVID-19 global pandemic. Unlike some other industries, it did not lose its momentum.
The Moroccan government’s introduction of a state of emergency on March 20 made traveling and importing difficult. Subsequently, the installers of solar equipment, such as pumps, heaters, and roof panels, saw their activities drop dramatically. Technological fairs, crucial for networking between renewable startups and investors, were canceled as well.
Innovation and agility are key in a new reality
Although physical activities came to a halt, the sector’s employees were quick to use the lockdown period for the industry’s benefit. The motivation of the cleantech workers is as high as ever, according to Fatima Zahra El Khalifa, CEO of “Cluster Solaire” (Solar Cluster).
The Moroccan nonprofit association aims to strengthen clean energy and green technology by offering support for startups and project leaders. During the lockdown, Solar Cluster has been providing distance training to help entrepreneurs develop their skills. The nonprofit emphasizes that innovation and agility are crucial for success.
Solar Cluster, in an unusual move for a non-profit organization, donated MAD 200,000 ($20,000) to the Special Fund for the Management and Response to COVID-19, designed to mitigate the economic and social impact of the global pandemic on Morocco. The employees of the fund also donated one month’s salary.
The CEO praised the support the Moroccan government offers to struggling enterprises and highlighted the opportunity for a mentality change that arose with the global pandemic, both for the general public and innovators. Some startups spent their time under lockdown improving prototypes to advance their position on the market. Others developed new solutions.
“[The pandemic] showed the importance of energy independence for our country as well as the relevance of persevering on the path of promoting green energies, with all its proven advantages,” El Khalifa told Finance News Hebdo (FNH).
The nonprofit launched a survey for 700 renewable energy enterprises to assess how COVID-19 impacted the companies’ operations in terms of new commissions, business turnover, job losses, and the vision for the industry’s recovery.
Government efforts for renewables
The government’s initiatives complement those of private actors in prioritizing and improving Morocco’s renewable energy sector. According to the Ministry of Energy, several companies from 12 countries established a presence on the Moroccan renewable energy market, with new presences still emerging.
Recent talks between Moroccan and British ministers of energy regarded prospective bilateral cooperation focused on renewable energies. The Moroccan-British deliberations encompassed the fields of renewable energy, hydrogen, and natural gas, as well as research and innovation.
The ministers discussed a stronger electricity cooperation as well as the important role the UK will play in international climate change policy as a host of the (now postponed) United Nations Climate Conference, COP26. The UK, as a hosting government, could spur investment in renewable energies which would help Morocco’s transition to clean energy. Morocco saw this trend after it hosted COP22 in 2016.
Apart from seeking bilateral cooperation partners, the ministry is improving the legislative and regulatory framework that oversees renewable energy in Morocco. The official body has already submitted an amendment to Law 13-09 to the General Secretariat of the Government.
Law 13-09 dates back to 2010 and provides the legal framework for renewable energy projects in Morocco. The law allows any individual or legal entity to produce electricity from renewable sources and outlines the framework for private investments in the sector. The proposed amendment aims at increasing transparency, simplifying authorization procedures, and improving project profitability.
The ministry is simultaneously working on consolidating the national electricity transmission and distribution network to increase modernization, integration, and predictive management of renewable energy production. The network should be consolidated by MAD 6 billion ($600 million) by 2023, which will place the renewable capacity at 2,600 MW.
Morocco aims to receive 52% of its domestic energy needs from renewable sources and become an exporter of hydrogen by 2030. The North African country is already leading in transitioning to renewable energy, with achievements such as the Noor Ouarzazate Solar Power Station—world’s largest concentrated solar power plant.