By Regina Timothy:
In a bid to increase energy sustainability and become a “green” power leader in North Africa, Morocco has started an ambitious plan to build 6 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2020, with a variety of technologies, including wind, solar, biomass, hydro and other technologies.
Morocco is the only North African country with no oil of its own. Currently, the country imports up to 90 percent of its energy, a big chunk of which comes from Europe in form of electricity via transmission lines. But if things go according to plan, the country could become a major player in the energy export business. As a matter of fact, the country is already thinking of exporting its renewable energy and talks are underway with Europe to feed power back across the power lines. According to Sa”id Mouline, director of Morocco’s Agency of Development for renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency, this has mainly been enabled by the policies laid down by the government to allow people to develop projects to export electricity.
Mouline explained that the public-private venture Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy will install a 160-megawatt concentrated solar power project which is part of the larger 500-MW CPV project in Ouarzazate in southern central Morocco.
This is in line with plans to build 2 GW of solar power in the next eight years, consisting of five solar stations. The first station will be built by 2014 while the rest will be finished by 2019. Once completed, the solar scheme is expected to meet 18 percent of the country’s annual electricity demand.
Another area of the renewable energy sector Morocco is looking to develop is the wind technology. With 3,500 km of coast line and average wind speeds between 6 and 11 m/s, this is one of the most promising sectors for renewable energy generation in Morocco. A study undertaken by CDER and GTZ in July 2007 estimated the total potential for wind power in Morocco at around 7,936 TWh per year, which would be equivalent to about 2,600 GW. However, the technical potential is set at around 4,896 TWh, or 1,600 GW. Currently the country has 300 MW of wind power installed and plans are also underway to install an additional 2 GW of wind power.