Morocco

Morocco

Morocco - Nation in quest for energy independence

MOROCCO: The African continent totals about 800MW of installed capacity, of which Egypt and Morocco account for 90%.

Although major projects are building - or are close to being built - in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Senegal, for various reasons the rest of the continent is only gradually waking up to wind. Both Morocco and Egypt are blessed with exceptionally good wind regimes and plenty of space. Both countries are close enough to Europe to make electricity export feasible.

In Morocco's case, the main market driver is its 97% dependency on imported fossil fuels. This puts a huge strain on its budget, exacerbated by heavily subsidised energy prices. To reduce this dependency and cut oil bills, the country has ambitious plans to tap its abundant solar and wind resources. In its integrated wind power programme, announced in June, Morocco expects the share of electricity produced from wind power will reach 14% by 2020, representing an installed capacity of around 2GW.

Various mechanisms are now in place to get there. In addition to state-funded projects contracted on a build-operate-and-transfer basis with assistance from development banks, the government intends to develop 1GW of capacity as public-private partnerships. It is also courting the private sector with the EnergiPro initiative, which encourages industrial customers to produce energy for their own consumption.

In January, Morocco's long-awaited renewable energy law took this a step further by allowing producers to sell their output directly to clients or to a state-designated counterpart. They will also be able to export power, although national needs will be given priority.

The Moroccan grid is already connected to Spain and Algeria, but far bigger plans are afoot under the ambitious Desertec initiative, which aims to link a huge ring of solar and, to a lesser extent, wind power stations on the south side of the Mediterranean with the pan-European network.

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