Renewable energy in Morocco,drive to boosting the economy

Renewable energy in Morocco, a new impetus to revive the national economy

Solaimane Lbakassi

May 7, 2021 

Images courtesy of guest contributor, fair use. 

Energy policies in Morocco have undergone major developments and reforms in recent years, this growing interest is due to several strategic factors which continue to have colossal effects on the economic and social indices of the country. Let’s go back to understand why Morocco is placing more emphasis on the importance of building its economy on green energies.

The beginning of the third millennium reveals new twists and turns, significant global growth in the East (China, India, Taiwan, South Korea, etc.) which favors global consumption of fossil fuels (Oil, Gas, etc.), it is a boon for producers and bad information for consumers. In this uncertain context, oil prices are soaring and this prosperity bubble encourages producers to inject unexpected investments to develop this expensive and profitable industry.

A sudden context, which accentuates the disparities between the world economies, since the producing countries absorb and collect a significant part of the world wealth (the currency reserves explode and increase in the Gulf countries), on the other hand, the consuming countries continue to pay the bill which keeps increasing.

During this period of transition between the end of the financial and real estate crisis in the West and the boom in the Chinese economy (+ 10%), there was a global trend that forged another path, one which aims to find other alternatives to reduce the cost of polluting energies and also give hope to countries unable to meet their energy needs, given that the energy bill impacts currency reserves.

A turning point that Morocco must succeed because the stakes are high, but the questions arise, how to do? The energy sector in Morocco is almost dominated by fossil fuels, the share of green energies is timid and, fossil fuels (Oil, Gas, etc.) are almost entirely imported, which cover 88.7% of energy consumption in primary school in 2018.

Since the enthronement of HM King Mohammed VI, Morocco has changed its strategy of governance and external relations, an insightful vision that highlights the enhancement of the economic, social, and cultural sectors. Of course, the concerns are enormous, but the royal desire to break with the old management systems of governance is well and truly on track.

This grandiose ambition to position the kingdom among the economies which record a considerable growth rate is always conditioned by the erosion of the kingdom’s currency reserves and by abysmal indebtedness which worsens the country’s international financial rating (Fitch Ratings, Moody’s, etc.).

At this point, the big questions arise around the appropriate solutions, an energy sector dominated by fossil fuels and the worst part is that more than 80% of the energy is imported, a huge burden for the country.

On 07/30/2007, a historic date for the Kingdom, the King addresses a historic speech to the nation, a historic moment:

“ The energy issue also arises as a fundamental question that must be addressed within the framework of a forward-looking vision. The objective is to guarantee the energy security of our country, to diversify national energy sources, by resorting to alternative energies, and to ensure their rational use. ”

Extract from the speech of HM The KING on the occasion of the Feast of the Throne (07/30/2007)
The world is going through a historic turning point, greenhouse gas emissions worry the international community, talks are multiplying and agreements are being ratified (Kyoto, Paris, Marrakech, Rio de Janeiro), a never-before-seen rush.

The outlook is favorable for renewable energies in Morocco; a strategic geographical position, and considerable natural and aquatic resources what was lacking was the will to break with old modes of exploitation. 3,500 km of sea coasts, long periods of sunshine, a geographical area exposed to maritime currents (winds and density).

The world energy scene remains dominated by the unequal distribution of fossil fuel resources, and it is time for Morocco to play in the big leagues.

Like tourism with the framework agreement and industry with the emergence plan, the Kingdom is launching its national energy strategy for 2030, a prosperous strategy hailed by the international community. Morocco took advantage of the 10th general assembly of the International Renewable Energies Agency (IRENA) to announce new developments in its energy policy.

The Kingdom thus decided to increase the share of clean energies in the sector to 42%. electricity mix by 2021. A share that should rise to 52% by 2030. Of course, the indices are optimistic, but how do we achieve these ambitions?

To achieve this, the Kingdom has indicated that it will accelerate scientific research in the energy sector, a vital element for any economic recovery.

To contribute to the establishment of its production capacities, Morocco plans to launch several large-scale solar projects.

Under the aegis of His Majesty the King and the Moroccan Renewable Energies Agency (MASEN), we began to witness the first stones brought to the building (Consortia, funding, strategic partnerships, and state commitment …), a strategic plan welcomed by international organizations and in particular the International Renewable Energy Agency.

In July 2016, the Noor solar complex (Ouarzazate and Midelt), made up of four development phases, aims to make the Shereefian Kingdom one of the world leaders in solar energy production. This megaproject will be spread over several development phases and will allow the deployment by 2030 of a total cumulative power of 1,600 MW thanks to the use of thermodynamic concentration and photovoltaic production technologies.

Another ambitious project is the Tarfaya Wind Farm, it is the largest wind farm in Morocco and Africa. This renewable energy project which cost nearly 500 million euros was led by the energy division of the Moroccan company Nareva in partnership with the French group GDF-Suez. In addition, Moroccans also have another wind farm located in Foum el Oued in the geographical radius of Laâyoune.

In the same vein, Morocco and Germany signed in Berlin an agreement relating to the development of the green hydrogen production sector, the “Power-to-X” project. ‘Clean hydrogen is now one of Morocco’s priorities for its energy transition. The project involves the construction of a hybrid photovoltaic / wind power plant to supply a green hydrogen plant with an electrolysis capacity of approximately 100 megawatts (MW).

With an ambitious strategy aimed at developing the energy sector worth 40 billion dollars, Morocco wants to see bigger to better position itself in the field of renewable energies. Currently, the Kingdom occupies fourth place in the prestigious ranking of climate change performance, behind Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Denmark.

The issue of renewable energies becomes an indisputable priority for the country, it is the moment for public and private operators to subscribe to this new strategy, firstly, it is a factor of reduction of energy dependence and, secondly, it is a vital element for economic and technological growth.

New opportunities are opening up for start-ups (Blockchain, Cloud storage, etc.), a new economic structure, based on new technologies that encourage clean energy is the flagship example, it is the American company Tesla which has dethroned large automobile construction companies (Volkswagen, Fiat, Toyota, etc.), this American company is relying more on electricity and big data, a new direction that could be a promising index for Morocco, provided it operates in common sense its natural resources and human capital.