Prime Minister Driss Jettou announced the new target in October at the start of a national debate on energy strategy. One of the main pillars of a coherent strategy would be to develop Morocco's renewable energy resource, he said. The country imports 95% of its energy and, with the price of fuel imports rocketing and electricity consumption growing at over 8% a year, the government intends to invest heavily in renewables to reduce costs and improve security of supply. According to the Centre for the Development of Renewable Energies, Morocco could generate up to 6000 MW of wind power along its 3500 kilometre coastline.
At the same time, Jettou confirmed that the size limit for plant built by autonomous producers will be increased from 10 MW to 50 MW. The government is also expected to introduce a new law this year to permit the gradual privatisation of the electricity market. The capacity of the grid connection with Spain will be strengthened from 700 MW to 1400 MW as part of a long term goal of integrating North Africa with Europe. The grid connection between Morocco and Algeria will also be boosted to 1300 MW.
As far as new wind capacity is concerned, a 60 MW plant at Cap Sim, near Essaouira on the Atlantic coast, is due to be commissioned this month. The plant was built by Gamesa, after winning a government tender bid, and funded by Germany's KfW overseas aid bank. It will be owned and operated by the state utility, the National Office for Electricity (ONE).
Another major project in the pipeline is a 140 MW plant near Tangier, to be funded by the European Investment Bank, KfW, the French development agency and ONE. Three companies and two consortia have been selected for the call for tender: Gamesa, GE Energy, Enercon, Nordex (with Eyra and Cobra, both part of Spain's ACS construction group and involved in the development, construction and operation of wind plant), and Vestas France with French company Cegelec. The invitation to bid will probably be issued mid-2007.
In October, Ciments du Maroc, a cement producer 53.2% owned by Italy's Italcementi Group, signed a framework agreement with ONE to build a 10 MW plant at its factory at Laayoune in southern Morocco in 2007. The company has an option to increase the capacity up to the new limit for autonomous producers of 50 MW. Likewise, another cement company, Lafarge Maroc, is considering increasing the size of its wind plant at Tetouan in northern Morocco from 10.2 MW to 30 MW and connecting it to the grid so that it can sell the excess capacity to ONE.
Lastly, in December the National Office for Drinking Water (ONEP) announced the results of a prequalification call for tender to build and operate a 10 MW installation coupled with a desalination plant near Tan Tan, also on the Atlantic coast. Eight candidates were selected: two French consortia (Degrement, La Compagnie du Vent, Sogea Maroc, Elecam; and OTV France, Vergnet, Amanor); one Spanish-Moroccan consortium (YNNA, TCA, SNTM, Hidrowatt); one Spanish-German consortium (Inima, Aqualia, Enercon); Cobra of Spain; the Italian company Ionics Italba, a subsidiary of GE; and a consortium comprised of Layne Christensen from the US, H20 Innovation of Canada, Théolia of France and Morocco's SCET SCOM. The project, which is also scheduled for 2007, will be funded by ONEP.