Siemens under fire in Western Sahara projects

MOROCCO: German manufacturer Siemens Wind Power and Italian developer Enel Green Power are under fire for their involvement in wind energy projects in the disputed territory of Western Sahara, effectively occupied by Morocco.

Siemens and Enel have been criticised for developing projects in the disputed Western Sahara territory

The Western Sahara territory's international status is currently undetermined, according to the European Court of Justice in December 2015.

The territory is administered de facto by the kingdom of Morocco. The COP22 Climate Change Conference is now under way in Marrakech, Morocco (7-18 November).

The Sahrawi rebel national liberation movement, Front Polisario, fighting for independence of Western Sahara, charges that Morocco does not administer Western Sahara under Article 73 of the United Nations Charter, but occupies it militarily.

On 2 November, non-governmental organisation Western Sahara Resource Watch demanded that Siemens and Enel "terminate such infrastructure projects in Western Sahara with the Moroccan government, in order to not lay obstacles to the UN peace process".

Siemens told Windpower Monthly it is currently participating in a tender for 850MW of wind projects in Morocco, and two projects of the tender (Boujdour and Tiskrad) are located in the Western Sahara region. The Siemens and Enel consortium won the tender in March

The bidding consortium also comprises Nareva, which is owned by Societe Nationale d'Investissement (SNI), 74% of the shares in which are held by the Moroccan royal family, according to WSRW.

Potential supply for these projects "is not in violation of applicable law," said Siemens. In taking the decision to supply wind turbines for the projects, "we in no way associate this with a judgment of the legal situation of the region", the company continued.

Further, Siemens "supports the stated position of the German government which has expressed its hopes for a peaceful and consensual resolution to the outstanding issues in Western Sahara, and its support for the United Nations plan for the self-determination of the (indigenous) Sahawari people".