Rhein on Energy and Climate

In the Arab world Morocco is one the very few countries without oil or gas resources.

To cover its fast rising energy consumption it has been totally dependent on imports.

Fortunately it possesses a big potential of renewable energy, in particular wind and solar: more than 1000 km coast line with winds blowing almost continuously; some of the sunniest regions in Africa and, last not least, more free space than any European country for building the world`s biggest solar-thermal power plant, large wind parks and regional power grids.

This potential offers better possibilities for generating – largely non-intermittent – renewable energy than even those of Spain, Portugal or Denmark.

During the last seven years the Moroccan government has wisely seized its chances, with the King as the driving force behind a $ 13 billion investment programme in renewable power generation and energy efficiency.

By 2020, Morocco aims to cover more than 40 per cent of its electricity demand through wind, solar and hydro power. Quite an achievement, but also a necessity in view of an expected quadrupling of its power consumption until 2030.

To curb rising demand Morocco is targeting energy efficiency. The Parliament is expected to approve this year appropriate directives for energy-efficient new buildings, a rather unique action in emerging countries!

For the implementation of this programme the government has created two specialised agencies for energy and climate and solar power and put in place a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework.

For the financing it relies on domestic and foreign investors. The wealthy royal family has taken a stake. So have Saudi and French companies. World Bank and German Development Bank have granted long-term loans at favourable conditions.

Thanks to the extraordinary conditions wind power costs no more than three cents per kWh, cheaper than coal-fired electricity, which shows the economic advantage of wind energy if generated at optimal conditions.

The solar thermal power plants, the biggest on earth, are not yet competitive. The government hopes to profit from the export of the advanced storage technology (molten salt solution) that helps generate electricity even after sunset.

In conclusion, Morocco demonstrates that emerging countries are able to fight climate change, provided there is political leadership and determination. Hopefully, the Moroccan delegation will be able to share its experience at the Paris Climate Conference in December.

Brussels 23. 05. 2015 Eberhard Rhein

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