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Morocco

Morocco

Morocco regulations force the pace along

Morocco's installed wind power capacity may have remained at 124 MW so far this year, but there are big plans on the horizon. The country is aiming to meet 10% of its energy needs from renewable resources by 2012, up from just 4% today. With electricity demand growing at 8% a year and power shortages a continuing problem, the government recognises that drastic action is required and has kick-started a market from two directions.

Well aware that the cost of fossil fuel is headed only one way, both the Moroccan government and its heavy industry are turning to wind power in a big way, with required new grid capacity being supported by overseas aid initiatives

Morocco's installed wind power capacity may have remained at 124 MW so far this year, but there are big plans on the horizon. The country is aiming to meet 10% of its energy needs from renewable resources by 2012, up from just 4% today. With electricity demand growing at 8% a year and power shortages a continuing problem, the government recognises that drastic action is required and has kick-started a market from two directions.

First, state utility the National Office of Electricity, (ONE), has launched its "Initiative 1000" program, targeting 1 GW of wind power by 2012. Fourteen wind farm sites throughout the country are being studied, with further details of these expected early next year. The first Initiative 1000 project to break ground is likely to be a 200-300 MW facility at Tarfaya, on the wind-swept Atlantic coast. Sixteen companies and consortia are bidding to develop and build the project in the second round of an international tender process (Windpower Monthly, May 2008). The winner is due to be announced by June 2009 and the plant to be rolled out in phases by 2012.

The second major initiative, dubbed EnergiPro, is aimed at encouraging private sector participation in electricity supply. Incentives are on offer for major industrial consumers that invest in renewable energy generation for their own needs to offset their energy bills and also their carbon emissions. ONE will transport the power produced by these plant to the point of consumption and pay for some of this cost. It also guarantees to buy any electricity surplus to the investors' needs at a favourable rate. Project size under the EnergiPro program is capped at 50 MW.

Taking advantage of this new program, cement company Lafarge Maroc is currently extending its Tetouan facility from 10.2 MW to 20.2 MW by adding five Gamesa 2 MW turbines. If commissioning takes place as expected in December, this will be the only new capacity coming on line in Morocco this year. Another cement company, Ciments du Maroc, 53.2% owned by Italy's Italcementi Group, is also developing a 50 MW project under the EnergiPro initiative alongside its factory at Laayoune, for completion in 2009. Most of the output will power the company's four cement works, with the rest being sold to ONE. Morocco is one of Italcementi's target markets for wind power, where the company aims to install close to 150 MW.

In similar vein, six industrial users have recently signed agreements with Nareva Holding, a subsidiary of the Moroccan industrial, financial and services conglomerate ONA, to develop and operate a total of 300 MW of wind power projects on Nareva's behalf. The biggest project agreed so far comprises up to 100 MW for Lafarge Maroc, scheduled for 2010. The others are 50 MW each for railway operator ONCF and Sonasid, Morocco's leading steel producer; 40 MW each for Managem, a mining company, and oil refiner Samir; and 10 MW each for the airports authority ONDA and the water utility ONEP. The output from the ONEP project will go to a desalination plant in the southern town of Laayoune. Founded in just 2005, Nareva aims to become the country's largest private producer of renewable energy by 2012.

Before then, 140 MW under construction at Tangier in northern Morocco will be rolled out next year. Gamesa is building the facility as a turnkey project for ONE, which is also putting up an equity stake. The rest of the funding comes from the Spanish government, the European Investment Bank and Germany's overseas aid bank, KfW.

A major brake on development of wind power in Morocco continues to be a weak national grid, particularly in the south of the country. In recent months, however, the government has secured two major credit lines specifically for improving the network. In April, French development agency AFD agreed to lend ONE EUR 50 million over 17 years, while in June the World Bank approved a loan of $150 million (EUR 102 million) repayable over 25 years.

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