EcoMENA, by Salman Zafar (February 2013) — Morocco, being the largest energy importer in North Africa, is making concerted efforts to reduce its reliance on imported fossil fuels. Renewable energy is an attractive proposition as Morocco has almost complete dependence on imported energy carriers. Morocco is already spending over US$3 billion a year on fuel and electricity imports and is experiencing power demand growth of 6.5 per cent a year.
According to the Moroccan Ministry of Energy and Mining, the total installed capacity of renewable energy (excluding hydropower) was approximately 300MW in 2011. The Moroccan Government has already achieved its target of supplying around 8% of total primary energy from renewables by 2012 which includes energy generation, conversion and distribution. Morocco is planning USD13 billion expansion of wind, solar and hydroelectric power generation capacity which would catapult the share of renewables in the energy mix to 42% by the year 2020, with solar, wind and hydro each contributing 14%.
Morocco Solar Program
Morocco has launched one of the world’s largest and most ambitious solar energy plans with investment of USD 9billion. The Moroccan Solar Plan is regarded as a milestone on the country’s path towards a secure and sustainable 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 (Sahara), Boujdour (Western Sahara), Tarfaya (south of Agadir), Ain Beni Mathar (center) and Ouarzazate — with modern solar thermal, photovoltaic and concentrated solar power mechanisms.
The first plant, under the Moroccan Solar Plan, will be commissioned in 2014, and the entire project is expected to be complete in 2019. Once completed, the solar project is expected to provide almost one-fifth of Morocco’s annual electricity generation. 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. The Desertec Concept aims to build CSP plants to supply renewable energy from MENA region to European countries by using high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines.
The 500MW Phase-One Solar Power Complex at Ouarzazate is the world’s largest solar thermal 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, with a total capacity of 500 MW, will come on-stream in 2015 and produce an estimated output of 1.2 TWh/year to meet local demand. The first phase will be a 160-MW parabolic trough facility while photovoltaic modules and CSP towers will be used in later phases.
The Ain Beni Mather Integrated Solar Thermal Combined Cycle Power Station is one of the most promising solar power projects in Africa. The plant combines solar power and thermal power, and is expected to reach production capacity of 250MW by the end of 2012. African Development Bank, in partnership with the Global Environment Facility and Morocco’s National Electric Authority (ONE), is financing approximately two-thirds of the cost of the plant, or about 200 million Euros.
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.
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. According to a study by CDER and GTZ, 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 2010 was 286MW with more than 800MW under construction.
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 is coming up at Tarfaya with installed capacity of 300MW with USD 350million investment. Morocco’s national utility ONE is developing almost half of the planned projects while the other half is contributed by private investment through the “EnergiPro” initiative, which encourages industrial players to reduce their production costs by producing their own energy with projects up to 50 MW. As part of this initiative, ONE guarantees access to the national grid, and the purchase of any excess electricity produced at an incentive tariff, with different tariffs for each project.