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Morocco to counter demand with renewables drive

Alternative energy projects to boost employment in Kingdom

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Morocco will harness wind to boost its renewables generation capacity.
Morocco will harness wind to boost its renewables generation capacity.

Morocco will draft in renewable energy in its efforts to meet surging demand for power, a government minister told delegates at the World Future Energy Summit held in Abu Dhabi.

The renewables drive will also help create jobs, and initiate energy trading with Europe.

“Energy demand [in Morocco] will have doubled by 2020, and tripled by 2030,” said Amina Benkhadra, minister of energy, mines, water and environment.

As a consequence, the government plans to generate 2,000MW by 2020 latest, with the possibility that the quota will be fulfilled by 2015.

Wind will also be harnessed, with plans for generation capacity of 1,000MW by 2020, said the minister.

The first significant solar project is a 500MW plant, to be built in the southern city of Quarzazate, which will start construction by the end of the year, according to Benkhadra.

The scaling up of renewable generation capacity will be helped by the implementation of a renewables law, added the minister.

The law will come into effect within 2013, he said. It will foster investment from the private sector, as it will introduce a feed-in tariff, a subsidy that makes renewable energy profitable to developers.

Benkhara also anticipates that the programme will help boost employment in the Kingdom.

“We want this project to be an opportunity to create jobs,” he said off the Quarzazate plant.

Renewable energy could become significant in this context as energy trading with Europe takes off.

The Desertec programme, which has been called into life by a multitude of European companies and financiers, aims to create renewable generation capacity on a massive scale in North Africa, enabling the region to sell clean energy to Europe.

A small part of Morocco’s initial capacity targets will already be sold to Europe, confirmed Benkhadra.

Morocco recently signed the first agreement to export green electricity to France, the Asharq Al Awsat daily cited Philippe Lorec, coordinator of the Mediterranean Solar Plan for France, last year. The electricity will be produced by the Beni Mathar solar energy plant in the northeast, said Lorec.

Part of the funding for Morocco’s renewables projects likely the European Investment Bank (EIB). The EIB is planning to invest US$27 billion over the coming decade to add 20GW of green energy capacity in Mediterranean countries facing Europe, according to media reports in November last year.
 

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