A key theme that emerged from the recent UN Climate Conference in Doha was that the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) needs to do more to reduce carbon emissions and to increase the use of renewables in its power sector.

Morocco is one Mena country that has already picked up the baton in the race to utilise renewables for domestic power production. Its wind-power programme is a key element of the government’s plans to meet a renewable energy target of 42 per cent of installed capacity by 2020.

Unlike most countries in the Mena region, Morocco is not blessed with the vast oil and gas reserves and generates most of its electricity from coal-fired thermal plants. In addition to environmental concerns, Morocco is dependent on coal imports to satisfy its energy demands. The kingdom’s decision to prioritise the development of a renewable energy sector is part of its bid to move away from imports and towards greater energy independence.

Despite Morocco’s renewable energy targets being highly ambitious, Rabat has already demonstrated that it can execute renewable energy projects, albeit on a moderate scale. The Moroccan Agency for Solar Development (Masen) has already developed four windfarms with a total capacity of 282MW and a 125MW solar project. With the government aiming for a total wind power capacity of 2,000MW by 2020, it will have its work cut out but is moving in the right direction.

If Morocco is successful in its drive for renewables energy, it will not only provide benefits for its people in the long-term, but should also act as a catalyst for other regional states to follow its example.