Morocco may have set its sights too high

10 August 2010

Kingdom may lose the status of North Africa’s renewable energy leader

Morocco has big plans for its renewable energy sector. It aims to generate 42 per cent of its energy needs through renewable resources by 2020. The country is in a good position to build a strong renewables base. But 42 per cent – even by European standards – is an ambitious target and Morocco may have set its sights too high.

The future of Office National de l’Electricite’s (ONE) 300MW Tarfaya wind farm remains in the balance. Bids to build the project were submitted in July 2009 in three separate technical, financial and tariff proposals. Technical and financial bids have been opened, but the tariff opening, which was scheduled for the end of March, is still yet to occur.

According to industry sources, the government’s commitment to pay the price of the green certificates, which top up the standard electricity price, is uncertain. Until this issue is resolved, the financial bids are expected to remain unopened.

Beyond Tarfaya, the government intends to build wind projects at a 200MW plant Akhfenir, 50MW facilities at Bab El Oued and Haouma and a 120MW plant at Khallad Jbel. As a project in the final stage of the tender process, ONE’s commitment to awarding the Tarfaya project will be important for similar upcoming projects.

Morocco’s solar power plan looks promising. In November 2009, the government unveiled a 2,000MW plan. But again, Morocco’s solar goals may be out of reach. The first project will have a capacity of 500MW. Only in the US and Western Europe have individual solar facilities of this size been installed.

The request for qualification (RFQ) has been issued to developers for the project. The success of this project will be watched closely. If this landmark facility does not go ahead, Morocco it will not retain its status as North Africa’s renewable energy leader.

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