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Morocco targets 30% drop in energy costs via renewables boost

Morocco solar Reuters
The investments will be led by UAE’s renewable energy firm Masdar and a consortium of US private investors
  • Government working on delivering clean electricity to manufacturers
  • Aims to generate 52% of its energy needs from renewables by 2030 
  • UAE’s Masdar developing solar plant with Morocco’s Green of Africa 
  • Kingdom working with UK to build solar panel and wind farms in desert

Morocco’s government has announced plans to reduce energy costs for factories by 20-30 percent through a combined strategy of investing in renewable energy and the decarbonisation of industries. 

“The government is working on delivering clean electricity to all manufacturers at a lower cost compared to what they are paying now,” Morocco’s minister of industry and commerce, Ryad Mezzour, said during a recent parliamentary session held at the House of Councillors.

Mezzour pointed to the fact that Morocco has successfully maintained the stability of electricity prices for both households and industries, in contrast to the fact that global prices for electricity have increased by as much as fourfold due to soaring fossil fuel prices.

Morocco has set itself ambitious targets of generating 52 percent of its energy needs from renewables by 2030 – comprised of 20 percent solar, 20 percent wind and 12 percent hydro. It has also set a target of 80 percent renewables by 2050. 

Renewables comprised 37 percent of the country’s energy mix in 2020 which meant it fell short of its target of 42 percent. 

However, the country is investing heavily in its renewables sector in a bid to meet its future targets. 

With 1.9 gigawatt (gw) of solar and wind capacity, Morocco is currently home to the third largest renewables capacity in the Arab world, sitting behind Egypt (3.5gw) and the UAE (2.6gw), according to the latest Global Energy Monitor report.

The kingdom is expected to produce an additional 14.4gw from solar and wind energy over the next five years – six times the capacity of its prospective gas projects.

While chairing a meeting on November 22 on Morocco’s renewable energy sector the country’s ruler, King Mohammed VI, said: “Morocco should accelerate the deployment of renewable energies in order to strengthen its energy sovereignty, reduce energy costs and position itself in the low-carbon economy in the decades to come.”

The king also ordered the development of an operational and incentivised “Morocco Offer,” covering the entire value chain of the green hydrogen sector, as well as urging the government to accelerate the development of the three Noor Midelt solar energy projects which have all seen participation from the UAE. 

Masdar, the UAE-government owned renewable energy company based in Abu Dhabi, is part of an international consortium that won a tender in May 2019 to construct the 800mw Noor Midelt solar plant in Morocco. It is developing the plant alongside France’s EDF Renewables and Morocco’s Green of Africa. 

Meanwhile, in April this year, Dubai-based AMEA Power won a contract to build two solar power plants in Morocco.

The solar projects were awarded to AMEA Power as part of a large international tender launched by the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen) and the Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development to construct the first phase of the multi-site solar energy Noor PV II programme, which has a capacity of 330mw.

Though Morocco boasts abundant renewable resources, the country still depends on foreign, non-renewable, sources of energy to supply over 90 percent of its energy needs.

The country remains heavily reliant on foreign investments, many of which require Morocco to export much of the energy that it generates.

For example, the kingdom is currently working with the UK’s Xlinks on an £18 billion ($20 billion) plan to build vast solar panel and wind farms in the desert that could power more than seven million British homes by 2030 – equivalent to an estimated eight percent of the UK’s electricity needs. 

The Xlinks Morocco-UK Power Project has been granted permission to install almost 12 million solar panels and 530 wind turbines across a 370 square mile area of desert in Morocco’s Guelmim-Oued Noun region and then transfer the power they generate to the UK via the world’s longest undersea electricity cable.

The first phase of the project is slated to go live in 2029, with the second phase due in 2031. Upon completion, Xlinks will generate 3.6gw of baseload electric power, stored at a 5gw battery plant in Morocco.

While Morocco stands to benefit from the project by creating 10,000 jobs, critics say that it will do little to serve the country’s own energy needs. 

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