Morocco draws on the elements for its green energy project

Oct 07, 2010 by Anthony Lucas
A 250-million-euro (300 million US dollar) wind farm near Tangiers after its inauguration by Moroccan King Mohammed VI. The farm in Melloussa, 34 kms (21 miles) from Tangiers in northern Morocco, has 165 turbines, with a production capacity of 140 megawatts.

Water, sun and wind: Morocco has launched an ambitious programme to harness the elements to produce "green" electricity to reduce its dependence on energy imports.

And eventually it even hopes to export the energy produced.

Lining the hills of Dhar Saadane, 126 windmills overlook the city of Tangiers, in what site manager Loubna Farabi says is the largest windmill park in Africa.

King Mohammed VI himself launched the site in June, one of the first steps towards Morocco's avowed aim of exploiting . It has a capacity of 140 megawatts (MW).

But to get that green energy requires a lot of money up front, especially when you are dealing with relatively new technology.

What has helped however, is the growing interest along the southern Mediterranean coastline among not just businesses but some European governments.

This has sparked interest in the Mediterranean to develop one of the region's most abundant resources: the sun.

Ten years from now, by 2020, the plan is to generate 20 gigawatts (GW) of power in solar power across the southern Mediterranean countries, a quarter of which could be exported from into Europe.

Morocco's project then, as ambitious as it is, is only part of a much larger plan put together by the 46-nation Union for the Mediterranean, which comprises the 27 European Union members and 16 Mediterranean countries.

For Mohammed Yahya Zniber, secretary general of Morocco's energy ministry, this represents a real economic opportunity for the country.

And Energy Minister Amina Benkhadra puts it this way: by diversifying its energy sources Morocco can ensure energy security.

The growing demand for energy in Morocco, on average up 6.5 percent a year, makes that argument all the more convincing.

At the moment, Morocco is importing more than 95 percent of its primary -- oil, coal and gas -- for the country's energy needs. And it imports 18 percent of its electricity from Spain.

And while the country's leadership has not ruled out looking at nuclear power, for the moment it has set itself the ambitious goal of increasing the share of renewable energy in its total output to 42 percent by 2020.

The plan is to share that out equally between hydroelectric, wind and solar energy: the wind park at Dhar Saadane then, is just one link in the chain and not enough in itself to meet the wind energy targets.

Morocco wants to produce 2,000 MW in wind energy alone by 2020 and for the moment, its windmills are only producing 280 MW year -- and that will require an investment of some 2.2 billion euros (three billion dollars).

It will also have to build three dams to increase its hydroelectric production to 2,200 MW by 2020, said Zniber at the energy ministry.

But the real work will have to come in solar energy, a resource that until now has been underexploited.

Morocco is putting 6.6 billion euros into plans to produce 2,000 MW in solar energy by their stated deadline, said Mustapha Bakkoury, president of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN).

And given the amount of sunshine the kingdom enjoys, Morocco can expect to get a good return on its investment in this area, said Bakkoury: for the yield from its site would be 20 to 30 percent than equivalent installations in Spain.

Five sites have been chosen for this part of the programme, the first of which will be developed in Ouarzazate.

Deep in the heart of Morocco, the desert city is perhaps better known for some of the films that have been shot there: from David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" to "Star Wars" and Ridley Scott's "Gladiator".

The plan is to have the Ouarzazate producing 500 MW by 2015. Morocco will put the first part of the project out to tender before the end of the year.

The problem with solar energy, said Bakkoury, was that it was a lot more expensive that conventional .

"This effort could only be justified if we put it in a larger economic context: the aim of the solar plan is to establish a real economic sector."

Explore further: Environmentally compatible organic solar cells

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Africa's biggest wind farm opens in Morocco

Jun 28, 2010

Morocco's King Mohammed VI inaugurated Monday a 250-million-euro (300 million dollar) wind farm near Tangiers, which an official source said was the biggest in Africa.

Renault Tanger announces eco-friendly factory

Jun 04, 2010

The Renault factory at Tangiers in Morocco will reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 98 percent and become the first car factory in the world to use renewable energy, a Moroccan minister said Friday.

Firms plan green energy power lines under Med

Jul 05, 2010

An industrial consortium launched preparations on Monday for a possible future power grid under the Mediterranean that would carry solar energy from Africa to Europe.

Recommended for you

Environmentally compatible organic solar cells

10 hours ago

Environmentally compatible production methods for organic solar cells from novel materials are in the focus of "MatHero". The new project coordinated by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) aims at making ...

Floating nuclear plants could ride out tsunamis

11 hours ago

When an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex in 2011, neither the quake nor the inundation caused the ensuing contamination. Rather, it was the aftereffects—specifically, ...

Unlocking secrets of new solar material

11 hours ago

(Phys.org) —A new solar material that has the same crystal structure as a mineral first found in the Ural Mountains in 1839 is shooting up the efficiency charts faster than almost anything researchers have ...

Ikea buys wind farm in Illinois

Apr 15, 2014

These days, Ikea is assembling more than just furniture. About 150 miles south of Chicago in Vermilion County, Ill., the home goods giant is building a wind farm large enough to ensure that its stores will never have to buy ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Simplicity is key to co-operative robots

A way of making hundreds—or even thousands—of tiny robots cluster to carry out tasks without using any memory or processing power has been developed by engineers at the University of Sheffield, UK.

Microsoft CEO is driving data-culture mindset

(Phys.org) —Microsoft's future strategy: is all about leveraging data, from different sources, coming together using one cohesive Microsoft architecture. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday, both in ...

IBM posts lower 1Q earnings amid hardware slump

IBM's first-quarter earnings fell and revenue came in below Wall Street's expectations amid an ongoing decline in its hardware business, one that was exasperated by weaker demand in China and emerging markets.

Down's chromosome cause genome-wide disruption

The extra copy of Chromosome 21 that causes Down's syndrome throws a spanner into the workings of all the other chromosomes as well, said a study published Wednesday that surprised its authors.