Thursday, December 7, 2023
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Morocco has long been touted as having some of the world’s best solar and wind resources, and the country is eager to use these resources to export electricity to Europe. However, some experts are questioning whether Morocco should prioritize meeting its own domestic energy needs before focusing on exporting renewable energy.

Moundir Zniber, a Moroccan energy entrepreneur and founder of Gaia Energy, believes that Morocco’s renewable energy resources could be “one of the big, big answers to European demand.” He argues that Morocco has the potential to help Europe move away from its dependence on Russian gas.

Morocco is strategically located on Europe’s doorstep and has set a target of generating 52% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The country hopes to export much of this electricity to Europe via undersea cables. However, currently, Morocco still depends on imports for 90% of its energy needs, with the majority of that coming from fossil fuels.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Morocco’s electricity generation in 2021 was primarily from fossil fuels, with 80.5% coming from burning coal, gas, and oil. In contrast, only 12.4% came from wind power, and 4.4% came from solar.

Morocco has made significant progress in recent years with large-scale projects like the Noor-Ouarzazate Solar Complex, the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant. However, the country needs to build many more solar and wind farms to achieve its renewable energy targets.

Mr. Zniber suggests that private Moroccan companies like his own could export solar and wind-generated electricity to Europe, along with green hydrogen created by renewable energy. He claims that Gaia Energy is developing wind and solar schemes that could meet up to 4% of Germany and Italy’s electricity needs. Additionally, his company is developing six projects to answer 25% of the EU’s green hydrogen needs.

Furthermore, British energy start-up Xlinks plans to build an undersea electricity cable from Morocco to the UK, hoping to provide 8% of the UK’s electricity requirements by 2030 using Moroccan solar and wind power.

Apart from these export opportunities, increasing the size of Morocco’s solar and wind power generation could also bolster economic growth in the country. According to the World Bank, it could create as many as 28,000 new jobs each year in a country with an unemployment rate of 11.2%.

Moez Cherif, the World Bank’s lead economist for the region, notes that increasing renewable energy generation could help Morocco decouple from the “very heavy volatility of the prices of fossil fuels.” It could also allow the country to “position itself as an industrial hub for investments for exports of green industrial products,” such as car manufacturing using renewable energy.

However, achieving these goals comes with a hefty price tag. The World Bank estimates that it will cost $52 billion for Morocco to hit its 2030 renewables target, with most of that money having to come from the private sector. Morocco’s Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development, Leila Benali, agrees with this assessment.

While the Moroccan government is eager to accelerate its renewable energy vision, some internal hurdles remain. Mrs. Benali acknowledges that the country needs to “streamline bureaucracy” and make sure that companies have access to land permits relatively quickly to ensure that investors can take advantage of opportunities.

Mrs. Benali asserts that the government’s energy strategy is based on the three pillars of ramping up renewables, increasing efficiency, and more integration into international energy markets. She adds that the “priority” is for Moroccans to have access to the “lowest-cost”.


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