Action plan for Morocco

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Under a national action plan launched in 2004, the Moroccan government intends to install 600 MW of wind power by 2010. This will boost the contribution of wind to energy production from around 1% at present to 8%, and reduce its dependence on imports. Morocco imports around 98% of its energy resources and is the largest importer of oil in the Arab world.

To date, the country has just 53.9 MW of wind power connected to the grid. Its major installation is a 50.4 MW plant at Al Koudia al Badia, 50 kilometres east of Tangier, while a small pilot project nearby contributes just 3.5 MW. In 2005, only 10.2 MW of new capacity was built, not to feed into the grid but to power a cement factory near Tetouan.

The government, however, is firming up plans for some 200 MW to be added over the next two years. The most advanced project is a 60 MW installation at Cap Sim, near Essaouira on the Atlantic coast. Spain's Gamesa will deliver the plant to Morocco's state utility, the National Office for Electricity (ONE) in 2007. Next in line is a 140 MW project near Tangier, for which the government has invited prequalification bids.

A number of other sites have also been identified, including Touahar near Taza, in the north of the country, where ONE and Spain's Iberdrola are studying a 70 MW project. Elsewhere, feasibility studies are being carried out, such as for 400-500 MW near Tarfaya, on the coast opposite the Canary Islands.

The government is also looking at developing small scale wind installations to power desalination plant. Earlier this year the National Office for Drinking Water (ONEP) launched a prequalification call for tender to build and operate a desalination station and 10 MW wind plant near Tan Tan, north of Tarfaya. The project, which is also scheduled for 2007, will be coupled with the grid to allow electricity to be drawn down at times of low wind speed and for excess power to be fed into the grid.

In anticipation of increased activity in Morocco, French wind project developer La Compagnie du Vent recently opened an office in Casablanca. It has already installed 95% of the turbines turning in Morocco and hopes to bid for future projects. It not only developed and is part of a consortium which owns and operates the Al Koudia al Badia plant, but also built the Tetouan plant last year.

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