The removal of fuel subsidies is vital if Morocco is to reach its ambitious renewable energy targets, says a representative for the country’s Energy Ministry.

Speaking on the sidelines of the World Green Economy Summit (WGES) in Dubai, Hakima el-Haite, minister delegate to the minister of energy, mining, water and Environment, said that removing the subsidies on gasoline and fuel oil earlier this year was necessary if the country was to achieve progress with renewable energy schemes.

“You can’t one side promote renewable energy, and on the other side, subsidies fossil side. As renewable energy is not competitive anymore, and no investors will be interested in your renewable energy,” said El-Haite.

El-Haite said making progress with renewable energy schemes does not just benefit the environment, but is a key part of reducing the cost of electricity and water in the long term.

“The first reason we look at sustainability and green energy is the economic reasons. There is a degradation of our energy sources and water. We discovered that the economic impact is so huge – and realised we must look at sustainability.”

Unlike many of its North African neighbours, Morocco has no natural hydrocarbon resources and 97 of its power production is fuelled by external resources. As a result the country is undertaking an ambitious renewable energy programme, which is targeting for 42 per cent of its energy to be produced by renewable sources by 2020.

One of the largest renewable energy projects planned is the Noor solar complex in Ouarzazate, southern-central Morocco, one of the largest solar projects in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region. In August last year, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen) prequalified groups for the next phase of the scheme, which involves developing one or more solar plants with a combined total capacity of about 300MW.