Morocco, A green energy bridge between Europe and Africa

The EU stands to gain from Morocco’s energy strategy review, explains Ghalia Mokhtari.
Ghalia Mokhtari, Attorney at law, Climate and Energy specialist, at the Moroccan Institute of Strategic Intelligence (IMIS)

By Ghalia Mokhtari

Ghalia Mokhtari is a climate and energy specialist at the Moroccan Institute of Strategic Intelligence (IMIS)

21 Sep 2020

Since the government’s first actions in the late 1990s, Morocco has undertaken an in-depth review of its energy strategy. This overhaul has been achieved through a number of concrete projects.

First, positioning Morocco as a leading player in North Africa and the Mediterranean; early attempts included entering into joint venture negotiations, in the mid-1990s, on the Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline with Algeria, Spain, and Portugal.

Second, developing the Kingdom’s power generation capacity; notably through legislative amendments allowing private actors to develop energy projects.

This included large-scale developments such as the Jorf Lasfar project, which recently saw its power purchase agreement with ONEE (Morocco’s National Office for Electricity and Drinking Water) extended to 2044.

Finally, developing more renewable projects, including wind power projects such as repowering the Koudia Al Baida wind farm in northern Morocco, first developed in 1997.

Morocco as a renewable energy leader

Since 2009, Morocco has developed an ambitious renewable energy programme aimed at increasing the share of renewable energies in the national energy network to 42 percent by 2021 and 52 percent by 2030.

"Since 2009, Morocco has developed an ambitious renewable energy programme aimed at increasing the share of renewable energies in the national energy network to 42 percent by 2021 and 52 percent by 2030"

The Moroccan programme, which outlines dedicated strategies for wind and solar, includes the development of several renewable projects by energy developers like Nareva, Engie, and ACWA.

The Noor projects developed by MASEN (the Moroccan Agency of Sustainable Energy) are expected to produce 582 MW at peak when fully operational.

Morocco is now a leader in the renewable energy sector both in North Africa and on the African continent as a whole. Thanks to its privileged geographic location with access to the Mediterranean and a very long coastline on the Atlantic, the Kingdom is well equipped to fulfil its ambition of becoming a true energy hub.

Morocco as a Mediterranean energy hub and key partner for Europe

Developing a regional energy strategy in partnership with the European Union, in particular a green strategy, would allow Morocco to play a major role in the creation of a Mediterranean energy hub in southern Europe, guaranteeing the energy security of Europe and the world.

In addition, facilitating South-South cooperation - between developing countries - would also benefit Northern countries, who in exchange for technical and financial assistance often receive the benefits of the projects they help develop as their Southern counterparts become important suppliers of energy.

These developing countries are powerhouses in their own right, contributing more than half of global growth in recent years. Today, intra-South trade accounts for more than a quarter of world trade, and foreign direct investment outflows from the South currently account for a third of global capital flows.

Morocco has already taken steps toward achieving its goal of partnering with Europe, with the announcement of the Morocco-Nigeria gas pipeline project in 2016, which will help position the Kingdom as a hub between the southern shore of the Mediterranean and energy exporting African countries.

"Morocco has already taken steps toward achieving its goal of partnering with Europe, with the announcement of the Morocco-Nigeria gas pipeline project in 2016, which will help position the Kingdom as a hub between the southern shore of the Mediterranean and energy exporting African countries"

The project, currently in its development phase, should make it possible to connect Nigerian gas resources to West African countries and Morocco, and from there on to Europe.

From a purely economic standpoint, interconnections provide access to markets with better business opportunities and therefore more attractive financial incentives for renewable energy projects, making it possible to fully capitalize on the region’s renewable energy potential and explore the development of other projects like off shoring.

For all of these projects, the European Union stands to benefit from participating in building a regional integration strategy.

If the economic arguments for improved regional integration were not enough, the political rationale is equally convincing, particularly as it concerns normalizing strained diplomatic relations in the Maghreb.

Morocco’s commitment to fighting climate change

Far from focusing solely on the economic and political potential of its energy strategy, Morocco is also deeply aware of the environmental and climate challenges the world is facing.

With the global importance of these climate issues in mind, Morocco launched several green programmes at the beginning of this year, including the Green Generation 2020-2030 plan, which aims to develop the agricultural sector by promoting the saving of irrigation water and reducing the Kingdom’s reliance on rain-fed farming.

In addition, following the appointment of the members of the Special Commission on the Development Model (CSMD), Morocco has begun drafting an environmental code. Both the code and the new development model are expected to include concrete, targeted actions to better protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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